Can we provide employees with a notice at termination that advises them that if uniforms are not returned within 72 hours of termination that the uniform cost will be withheld from the final check?
The FLSA does not allow uniforms, or other items which are considered to be primarily for the benefit or convenience of the employer, to be included as wages. Thus, an employer may not take credit for such items in meeting his/her obligations toward paying the minimum wage or overtime.
The FLSA does not require that employees wear uniforms. However, if the wearing of a uniform is required by some other law, the nature of a business, or by an employer, the cost and maintenance of the uniform is considered to be a business expense of the employer. If the employer requires the employee to bear the cost, it may not reduce the employee’s wage below the minimum wage.
For example, if an employee who is subject to the statutory minimum wage of $7.25 per hour) is paid an hourly wage of $7.25, the employer may not make any deduction from the employee’s wages for the cost of the uniform nor may the employer require the employee to purchase the uniform on his/her own. However, if the employee were paid $7.75 per hour and worked 30 hours in the workweek, the maximum amount the employer could legally deduct from the employee’s wages would be $15.00 ($.50 X 30 hours).
The employer may prorate deductions for the cost of the uniform over a period of paydays provided the prorated deductions do not reduce the employee’s wages below the required minimum wage or overtime compensation in any workweek.
A business would not be able to deduct the cost of a uniform from a final paycheck if it would reduce the employee’s pay below minimum wage.