Should I have to pay for clothes which are specified by my employer?

Many employers that regulate employees' dress, for example by requiring employees to wear a uniform with a logo, choose to provide clothing, a shopping allowance or a discount on clothing. However, this is not necessarily compulsory for the employer and is a factor you need to consider when taking a job.

It is possible for an employer to charge for uniform, but only as long as there is a clear term in the written employment contract document permitting this (although your hourly pay must not fall below the National Minimum Wage as a result of any deduction).

In 2018, deductions from wages to cover the cost of uniforms led to the ‘naming and shaming’ of several well-known high street brands for failing to pay their staff the National Minimum Wage, including restaurant chains Wagamama and TGI Fridays, and the Marriott Hotel chain. This issue also covers staff discounts on an employer’s branded clothing that workers are required to wear at work.

The rules are different for personal protective equipment. The employer is never allowed to charge for personal protective equipment, such as safety helmets, gloves, eye protection, high-visibility clothing, safety footwear or safety harnesses.

See our Health and Safety section for more details.

If you hold onto your personal protective equipment at the end of the employment contract instead of giving it back to your employer, your employer can deduct the cost of replacing it from your final pay packet, but again only if there is a written term in the employment contract allowing this.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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