Should employees pay for uniforms?

Man wearing a business suit and bow tie with braces

Many employers in the UK require their members of staff to wear corporate uniforms. This is especially true in the industrial, retail, beauty and hospitality sectors, where customised workwear helps to maximise brand awareness and foster a sense of unity and belonging among employees.

In a great number of cases, employers choose to supply their staff uniforms free of charge and often provide two or three sets to each employee. Other employers offer a discount or a reimbursement scheme to employees who have to pay for their uniforms. Generally, there is no legal obligation for employers to do this, however there is one exception to this rule.

Work uniform laws UK

According to UK work uniform laws, employers are not legally required to pay for corporate uniforms, and the bill can be passed straight to the employees. The only time it is compulsory for employers to pay for staff uniforms is when supplying an item of corporate clothing that amounts to personal protective equipment (PPE). This is detailed under the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

What is PPE?

Two workers in hi vis clothing and helmetsPersonal protective equipment refers to items of workwear clothing and accessories that protect individuals against injury and health risks in the workplace. Examples of PPE include helmets, goggles, high-visibility clothing, protective gloves and protective footwear – many of which you will find in our PPE & Accessories section. Employers must choose PPE carefully and take into account the individual job role and responsibilities of each employee. They also need to ensure employees are properly trained to use their PPE, and can effectively detect and report any faults.

Top tips for supplying staff uniforms

If your business utilises promotional workwear clothing you will be aware of the benefits this can have for brand promotion, employee unity and ROI. If you are an employer looking to introduce corporate uniform, we have some tips to bear in mind when it comes to financial contribution:

Be reasonable about the cost

If you would like your staff to pay for their work uniforms, try to be reasonable about the cost of what they are required to wear. Some workwear uniforms can include a number of garments, which can all add up to a costly sum. If you hire staff on the minimum wage, it is unlikely they will be able to afford several sets of workwear clothing.

Meet half way

Many employers supply, free of charge, one or two sets of work uniform a year, but make it a requirement for employees to pay for any additional items themselves.

Maintenance costs

Man wearing a hospitality shirt Employers are not obliged to pay for any repairs, replacements or cleaning bills for staff uniform – regardless of whether it has been provided free of charge. However, the employee may be able to claim tax relief from the HMRC if they pay a large sum towards their corporate clothing. Here at Portlantis we provide an extensive range of promotional workwear that can be customised with your company name or logo at an affordable price. With fast turnaround times and high standards of customer service, you can order your embroidered workwear with ease and confidence. Call us on 0118 977 4529 to get a quote today.

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