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View Full Version : Uniforms - professionalism at what price?


Stonehenge
03-24-2001, 02:14 PM
I have a question for those who have uniformed employees -

All of our employees wear uniforms. Khaki pants or shorts, with a logoed t-shirt. I also provide 1 hat (Panama Jack style or ball cap, also with logo).

I give each new person 5 new t-shirts, a new hat, and reimburse $15 toward the purchase of pants (up to 5 pair).

The problem is, with some of the summertime help you get, with turnover being high, it gets expensive spending $120+ on employees that are only with you a few months, and never return the following season.

What are your policies for uniforms? Who pays what, what quantities, do you have probation periods before giving unis, etc...

bam
03-24-2001, 05:33 PM
All of our employees are uniformed. Salaried employees are provided uniforms. Hourly employees don't receive many benefits, so they must pay for them, however, so they aren't placed in financial hardship, money is deducted over time. Usually, we provide hats for free. It certainly is better than watching the crews with baseball caps with unproffesional logos. And you can't have your employees running around in the heat of summer with no protection from the sun at all.

We would be in great debt if we provided all the uniforms. Does a corporate entity such as a bank or credit card company pay for their employees business suits? No. However, to have that job a certain uniform is expected.

Fantasy Lawns
03-24-2001, 08:11 PM
full time & crew leaders are given full uniform (hat, shirts, shorts, work boots)

the summer help we take a small fee out of the first 2 checks ....and then after end of the season we return it when we get the shirt & hats back ....it's worn but we have plenty of extra's for the following summer (some are still in OK shape)

I use to work for an outfit which had a uniform service (they came by weekly to pick up dirty & drop off clean) the uniforms sure lasted a lot longer than most

cutntrim
03-24-2001, 11:28 PM
Employees pay for some of the cost of uniforms through deductions on paychecks. They don't pay all at once, and they don't pay the full cost either.

kutnkru
03-25-2001, 11:27 AM
We are transfering the cost of using a uniform rental shop to our ewmployees this season. In the past we basically swaped services and it was virtually an even-steven swap.

This season our employees will have the option of $15 week for 5 pairs of pants or they can buy their own pant/short attire. We do not tolerate rips or soiled linens to be worn on the job site.

Company shirts and caps are provided, and must be worn at all times. For the new guys we will hire thru a temp agency for some of the bids we have received for this summer, they will get the $3 AC Moore ashe grey t-shirts. These shirts will basically match the company uniform without the logos, and will be a way for clients to know who is full time and who is seasonal.

As far as footwear is concerned, we reimburse for 50% of the cost of the boot up to $75. We will also be providing Carhartt jackets and bibs this fall to those employees who have been with us for over 3 years. Company sweatshirts are available to all, but the final paycheck is with-held until we receive them back.

Hope this helps you Stone.:)
Kris

thefarmer4
03-25-2001, 12:00 PM
What are the legalities of taking deductions out of paychecks for uniforms.

kutnkru I don't think you can legally with hold a paycheck for any reason. You better check just to be sure? Not that I wouldn't do the same.

You should also tell your employees they can deduct some of that money on their taxes.

At a local supermarket they give you 1 t-shirt when you start after that you buy the rest.

John Allin
03-25-2001, 02:19 PM
As long as the employee signs and agrees to the deduction, you can do it. However, the Federal Labor Laws specifically state that you can NOT take their wage below "minimum wage" even if they agree to the deduction.

In the same vein... if the employee damages something and then agrees to pay for it (before or after the incident), you cannot take the paycheck below minimum wage, no matter what. Feds will make you give it back IF you get audited. BTW - the federal statute of limitations is 2 years on a wage audit. In other words, they can only go back two years to check to see if you were kosher in your dealings with regards to wages.

GeoffDiamond
03-25-2001, 05:21 PM
We use to buy our employees work clothing. This year we are going to a uniform service. I have done that math and found it will be cheaper. We still will buy employees 5 t-shirts, a winter coat, hats, gloves, and boots.

The uniform service will clean the uniforms, replace them when they are worn out. In the utility construction bix, it doesn't take long for uniforms to get beat up. It is a better way to go, when you get over 25 employees.


Some of you guys that that give employees up to 15 dollars for pants. If you figure the cost of jeans are around 18 to 40 dollars a pair, 15 dollars doesn't go very far.

Just IMO.

Summer/ college/ high school, employees get 2 pairs of carhartt jeans, 5 t-shirts, 2 job shirts, and gloves and hats. If they return for a second year they will get a uniform from our uniform service.

Geoff

4 Saisons
03-25-2001, 05:46 PM
Our law is clear: provide the uniform or your employees can wear anything they want. Other way you need a signature from the employee on a agreement. Never heard about the minimum wage John as refered to, but it probably exist here too.

kutnkru
03-25-2001, 09:40 PM
Originally posted by GeoffDiamond
Some of you guys that that give employees up to 15 dollars for pants. If you figure the cost of jeans are around 18 to 40 dollars a pair, 15 dollars doesn't go very far. Just IMO.

Geoff I just wanted to clarify a little bit more on this. I offer them the opportunity to use our linen service for $15 a week.

This will give them 5 pairs of pants at their disposal and they wont have to worry about the washing factor. We also have a pricing structure for those that wish to have a maximum of 10 pairs., Otherwise they can purchase their own britches as long as they meet company standards at their own expense.

This is why I have given them the option for the $15 because it is MUCH cheaper than the alternative as you stated.

Hope this clears things up a bit.:)
Kris

gogetter
04-06-2001, 12:32 AM
I don't have any employees yet, but you can bet that if I REQUIRE them to wear uniforms (and I will), I and only I will be paying for them.
I think to require an employee to wear a uniform and then make them pay for it on top of that is ridiculous.
This probably comes from my working for a furniture company for 8 years and having full uniforms supplied free by the company.
I would never pay to wear a uniform for a company and wouldn't expect anyone else to do it fo me either.

Just my opninon.

Jonathan E.

John Allin
04-06-2001, 08:56 AM
If you attend the Green Industry Conference and attend any ALCA functions, and then make a statement to the affect of "I don't require uniforms on my employees" - everybody will look at you crosseyed like "why are you here if you're not a professional??"

Just a thought.

gogetter
04-06-2001, 02:45 PM
Hi John A. Not sure if you were reffering to my post or not. If you were, you may have misunderstood my post. I was simply saying that I WILL pay for my employees uniforms in full and they WILL be required to wear them.
I think making them to pay for thier own uniforms is wrong.

John Allin
04-06-2001, 03:00 PM
No, no, no.... not referring to anyone's post at all. I understood what you were saying.

I was just indicating that some guys don't see a need for uniforms (not directed at anyone in particular), and that I think that is a bad policy.

gogetter
04-06-2001, 03:11 PM
Originally posted by John Allin
No, no, no.... not referring to anyone's post at all. I understood what you were saying.
I was just indicating that some guys don't see a need for uniforms (not directed at anyone in particular), and that I think that is a bad policy.


Agreed! Have a great season.

Stonehenge
04-06-2001, 04:53 PM
gotgetter -

Once you've been down the uniform road a ways, you'll see why I was putting this question out there.

With safety equipment and uniforms, every one of my employees costs me $150 before they even work 1 minute. then, get some guys that stop showing up after a couple days, or ones you have to fire after a day or two, and then you have 2 headaches: collecting uniforms, and/or paying again for more uniforms for the next guy that you hope works out for more than a day.

If I hire 5 guys, I'm spending $750, before they even start. It starts to make my P&Ls look ugly, and as any business person does, I try to make my numbers look better, so I get out of the uniform biz and into the landscape biz.

Good luck with your biz and with crossing the 'uniform bridge' when you get to it.

gogetter
04-06-2001, 09:13 PM
I would go with the suggestion that someone made about waiting a couple weeks before getting a new employee uniforms. This is what they did at the furniture company I worked for.
Gives ya some time to get a feel for whether they're gonna stick around or not.
I also liked the suggestion about getting them some regular T-shirts that are a close match in color to your normal uniforms to kinda hold them over until you do get them uniforms. And this way they don't go to a customers house wearing any old thing that could make you look bad.

One other suggestion would be to make them front the money for the uniforms then reimburse them after you see that they're gonna stick around (say 3 or 4 months). Just a thought.

Good luck either way! Take care.

mbwent
04-07-2001, 03:51 PM
We provide 3 shirts and require khaki work shorts. They pay for shorts, we pay for shirts. 3 shirts can be laundered and is plenty for 5 day workweek. Our shirts cost about $12 each, but this is well worth having identifiable employees for our clients!!

Chopper Lover
04-09-2001, 07:41 PM
From the Employees Perspective:

I understand the issue of spending money on uniforms for me, an employee that may only last a day or three. I also understand that if you (employer) want me (employee) to wear something that I would not normally wear, supply it, otherwise I will wear what I feel is comfortable and appropriate. What I wear does not affect my work ethic one bit. I will still be to work on time, do what I am supposed to do, and do it right the first time because I don't want to have to find the time to do it again later. Furthermore, I have no interest in paying YOU to make ME your walking billboard.

From the Employers Perspective:

I have an issue with spending money on uniforms for an employee that only lasts a day or three. I want you to look professional and like a team member. I want the customers to know you are part of the crew and neighbors to be able to see the name and phone number of the company so we can serve them also.

Resolution:

There is a way to recover your issued uniforms should an employee quit or not show up for work. It is called an "agreement". The perspective employee signs an agreement prior to employment that he will return all issued property (uniforms) to the company in order to pick up his last pay check. You can reissue everything but the hat to the next employee. (Getting a used hat would just be flat out disgusting!)

Unless you want them in a specific color or style pant, you issue only shirts and hat(s) since they have to wear pants anyway. Give them one freshly washed clean shirt each day for the first week. (The only issue to this could be soap allergies.) If they don't show up the second day you are only out one shirt and hat which you should get back in order for them to collect their pay check on pay day. If you want to give them some money toward a certain type of foot wear that is an option also. Maybe it may give you a reduced rate on your insurance, but knowing insurance companies, probably not.

Mark

Foz
04-09-2001, 10:35 PM
Mark,

Good post, I totally agree, have worked for companies in the past & the "agreement" seems to work the best. You guys should also check your state laws, in some areas if you want employees to wear a uniform, you MUST provide the uniform. Lucky me, my wife owns an embroidery company & she makes my shirts cheap.