- What if my employee buys a second branded t-shirt from me, even though I didn’t ask her to? If you deduct the cost of a second t-shirt from her pay, this still mustn’t take her wage below the legal minimum.
- What if I require my employees to wear particular clothing, like black trousers and black shoes? The rule still applies—the cost of buying clothes from a shop mustn’t take workers’ wages below the minimum.
- What about costs related to normal wear and tear? Again, the same rules stands—the cost of repairing the uniform mustn’t take workers’ wages below the minimum.
- What if my employee damages, loses or fails to return his uniform? If it’s his fault, then you can charge him to replace or repair it, but only if you explained this in his contract. This deduction can take his pay below the minimum.
You wouldn’t think something as simple as a uniform could be a potential danger to employers. But uniforms caused restaurant chain Wagamama to repay £133,212 to 2,630 of its workers. Why? Because they hadn’t factored uniform costs into their wage calculations (or so they said). As a result, they ended up on the government’s name-and-shame list of companies who failed to pay the minimum wage. Over the past few years, uniforms have been the source of other workplace disputes, too. So what does the law say? Let’s start with the reason Wagamama got into trouble. When employees need to buy their uniform from you, you can deduct the cost from their pay. But this can’t take their wages below the national minimum wage (NMW) or the national living wage (NLW), depending on which one applies. If you provide free uniforms, or your staff choose to buy extra items with their own money, this doesn’t affect their wages. But what if…