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Employers that require workers to wear a uniform at work cannot make deductions to a worker’s wage for the cost of the uniform if it brings their wage below the National Minimum Wage (“NMW”).
High profile organisations have recently been “named and shamed” in the government’s register for failing to compensate staff who are required to wear particular types or colours of clothing.
As a uniform is considered to be for the Employer’s benefit, deductions can only be made for the cost of providing it in the “pay reference period” in which the cost was incurred. This is calculated by reference to how often the worker is paid. If a worker is paid weekly then this would be their pay reference period. Consequently, deductions over several pay dates is not a way around this.
The HMRC provides guidance on uniforms and differentiates “required uniform” and “optional uniform”.
HMRC states that where an Employer expects the worker to purchase specific items then any deductions from their pay in respect of those items will always reduce national minimum wage pay. Where a uniform is not required and the worker chooses freely to pay for additional items of uniform then this will not reduce national minimum wage pay.
Employers are encouraged to put systems in place to ensure that workers are not underpaid. Such systems may include providing workers with a uniform for the duration of their employment and requiring its return when their employment cease. Alternatively, a clothing allowance or reimbursing workers for the reasonable cost of buying clothes to comply with the policy may be more appropriate.
Contact our Employment team if you would like to discuss the the effect these changes will have on you and your business, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01484 821 500 to speak to a member of our team.