- Can my employer require me to purchase my uniforms or to have them cleaned or maintained?
- New York’s Hospitality Wage Order contains a number of regulations regarding employee uniforms.
- The Hospitality Wage Order, for example, generally requires covered employers to either provide or purchase uniforms that employees are required to wear while they work. Uniforms that are determined to be clothing an employee could wear as a part of his or her “ordinary wardrobe,” however, need not be furnished or paid for by the employer. An employer is also not required to purchase uniforms that are considered to be in excess of the number needed by the employee.
- The Hospitality Wage Order also requires covered employers to either maintain required uniforms or pay employees a set amount in addition to their agreed rate of pay to compensate them for maintaining their own uniforms. This additional amount is referred to as “uniform maintenance pay.” If an employer chooses to maintain required employee uniforms instead of providing uniform maintenance pay, the employer must provide a maintenance service that meets certain requirements set out in the Hospitality Wage Order.
- Notably, if required uniforms fall within what is called the “wash and wear” exception, employers do not have to maintain the uniforms or pay for their maintenance. To fall within this exception, uniforms must meet certain criteria that are set out in the Order. For a uniform to fall within the exception, for example, an employee must be able to routinely wash and dry it with his or her other personal clothing.
- If a covered employer fails to comply with the regulations about uniforms set forth in New York’s Hospitality Wage Order with respect to an employee, the employee may have a right to recover money in court.