View Full Version : Company Uniforms + Safety Gear - Who Pays?

03-19-2004, 09:00 PM

I'm new to these forums. My dad, ed2hess, pointed out this site recently and I finally got some free time and joined up today.

Anyway, I was hoping to get some feedback on a question I just brought up recently with my brother about company uniforms.

For the companys out there that require uniforms are you giving these uniforms to your employees free or are they required to buy them?

I was under the impression that most of the bigger National companies require employees to buy their uniforms from the company itself, but after consulting with one of our lawyers he said this was illegal.

Now after hearing that I'm just curious to hear what the standard protocol is around the US on this matter for both the big and small companies out there.

Also I'd be curious to hear what the legalities are on requiring employees to buy certain types of equipments (safety glasses, gloves, boots, ect).

Once again do most companies provide these things free or is it up to employee to purchase this his or herself?


03-19-2004, 09:10 PM
I always provided those to the employees, except for pants, they had to buy the blue navy dickies themselves

03-19-2004, 09:20 PM
We supply their shirts, sweat shirts, jackets and all PPE except workshoes. They have choice of tinted or clear safety glasses and we have an ear plug station in the shop as well as spare plugs in each truck. Also, each employee is provided gloves.

03-19-2004, 09:38 PM
we supply t-shirts, sweatshirts,rain gear, ear and eye protection, and also gloves. whether or not they use them, is there own choice.
i just got every one to use ear protection this last year by buying the ear protection with radios in them but i do make them buy thier own batteries when the ones that came with them ran out.
I also suggest they wear steel toe boots.

03-20-2004, 02:29 AM
I buy the first 2 for them. after that they buy their own. As for safety equiptment, earplugs, safety glasses and such, I supply those. I belive it is law via osha that you supply all safety equiptment. Uniforms are required but federal and state law does not require to pay for those.

03-20-2004, 02:36 AM
If you are going to have the employee sign a memo stating safety protocal. I think you need to provide them with it or they are not alowed to work. Whether its used properly is none of your consern after that though. I have signed many things for other people over the years and they told me straight up, I am not going to lose my house and business over a 5 dollar pair of safety goggles.

03-20-2004, 02:50 AM
We supply all uniforms and safety equipment to employees - at our cost. I just keep good tabs on them and make sure they aren't mis-treating them. Shirts and sweatshirts and hats get worn over time. I understand that. So periodically, I allow them to trade in their ragged uniforms for new ones. I want to keep my guys looking good.

I just gained a killer employee this week from another company. He'd been with them quite a while and was just sick of their assanine policies. One of them was that he had to buy all of his own uniforms, including a $40 company jacket. If he came to work without the jacket, he was forced to buy another one (and they'd take it out of his pay) or go home for the day. If he didn't have a watch on him (regardless of the fact that he had a cell phone on him that read the time) he was sent home. His shoes were inspected every week and he had to buy new ones if they didn't look good enough. He was forced to use his own personal cell phone to communicate with his bosses, etc. etc. etc.

They thought they were doing the right thing by having such a strict regiment for everyone to follow. But what it did was made them lose a great employee! He's fluent in spanish and english, works like a horse, well groomed, I didn't have to train him on anything, is responsible, etc. and I am paying him $1 less per hour than they were. He knew we didn't pay as much going into it. I told him we couldn't afford to pay as much as he was making there. He didn't care. He came to work for us for less just because they were so stingy about this kind of stuff.

Treat your employees right and they will usually return the favor. Treat them like mindless peons and they will have low morale and seek work elsewhere.

2 man crew
03-20-2004, 02:52 AM
I supply uniforms and eye/ear protection. No charge.

03-20-2004, 06:04 AM
Might I also add / suggest to all of you that each and every company have a "written" safety policy. This policy SOG-SOP must state how / when they are to use the safety equipment you supply to them. OSHA requires you to do this. Also your insurance company will be happier that you do this also.

Acute Cut
03-20-2004, 07:28 AM
They buy thier own undies, socks, boots (steel toe recommended), and pants (carhart double pleated recommended). The rest is mine. I got radio ear muffs for the guys. They LIKE wearing thier hearing protection. I let them pick thier own safety glasses. Shirts and coats are new this year. We 6 in our little company look GOOD. lol. Some day we might even give the little bit bigger guys a run for the money i think. Ya never know. hope so though

03-20-2004, 08:06 AM
Indy I have been wanting to write a safety procedure and policy and have my employees sign it, and keep it on file. Can you give me some ideas or a sample of yours-I would apreciate it-my email is harryha@verizon.net-Thanks-Harry

03-20-2004, 08:38 AM
With the exception of underwear, I provide everything. After a 90 day employee probationary period, all I do is monitor use, looking for abuse. If w/in the proby period, they pay to replace for abuse. If they get canned, the equipment can be kept at their cost, or returned. They usually try to return the stuff, however, if it has been abused to the point of being non useable, they pay for the abuse. Once the employee is off probation, I'll replace with no problem the boots, socks, pants, shirts, tee shirts, hats, whatever - when they need it. Also part of the uniform is the cheap folding pliers and nylon holster. All of this I have written is explained up front to the new employee, they sign a form understanding this (english or spanish) and if they have a problem with it-no job.
As a side note, since I have instituted this policy, acts of abuse, damage to equipment , loss of uniforms - have all stopped. The guys look good, the equipment looks good, and the customers repeatedly tells me they know when we are around because everyone knows my uniforms and standards.

DFW Area Landscaper
03-20-2004, 10:56 AM
I bought my new employee one pair of green pants at Wal-Mart along with a black belt. Gave him a brand new hat too. I told him I'd have a clean work shirt for him everyday.

Well, he takes the work shirt home everynight and reports to work the next morning in laundered pants and shirt. That poor guy is doing laundry every night.

I would have no problem buying the guy five pairs of pants and five shirts if I knew I'd get them back when he quits.

Is it legal to withold the value of the uniforms from the last paycheck if they don't give them back when they quit?

DFW Area Landscaper

03-20-2004, 12:26 PM
It's probably legal to do that. But I bet the law says you have to notify them about it at the time you give them the uniforms (e.g. have them sign and give them a copy of written co. policy).

Regardless of the legality or not, I think that's probably standard practice. Whenever I pay someone their last paycheck, I won't hand them the paycheck until they hand me their uniforms. It's amazing how quick they come up with the uniforms!!! LOL

03-20-2004, 12:58 PM
Can't withhold pay unless they agree to it in writing.

03-20-2004, 01:33 PM
DFW - I have my employees sign a form advising that COST OF UNIFORMS will be deducted from final paycheck, unless they are returned at time of leaving employment.

I have them sign a form when they are issued shirts, sweatshirts, etc. that states the same thing. Then I also have a record of how many shirts they have in their possession.

I charge them what it costs me, and a little extra (incentive for them to return items). T-shirts are $15; sweatshirts are $35.

I don't know about you, but I DON'T WANT THEM KEEPING MY SHIRTS AFTER THEY HAVE LEFT EMPLOYMENT. Don't want them going to bar and starting a fight wearing MY SHIRTS!

I buy Elvex sunglasses by the dozen and ear plugs by the case. I'm not worried about getting that stuff back.


Lux Lawn
03-20-2004, 02:00 PM
I provide work shirts sweatshirts gloves and eye protection the guy that works for me last year wanted something for his ears and bought them himself but I would have been willing to buy them had I known.

03-20-2004, 02:25 PM
Every year, the guys get 4 brand new shirts & pants, if they need or want extra that is up to them, they pay for the extras.

I also supply all safety equipment ( glasses, gloves, earplugs ) but the shoes are up to them as long as I approve of the style.

Steel toe is required on all boots and eye protection is a absolute must, no exceptions.

They get 2 sweatshirts for the fall / winter and if they are a good employee usually get a Company winter coat as a Holiday Bonus.

Project Earth, LLC.
03-21-2004, 01:52 PM
Happen to know for a fact, in NJ at least, if you REQUIRE your employee to wear a uniform, you must supply them at YOUR cost. To break it down, you cant just say to someone, " I want you to wear this, and you will pay for it!" Now there are ways around this.. you can say, "I want you to wear decent jeans and a clean, plain t shirt -OR- you can wear this company shirt and they are $10 each. Your choice."


03-21-2004, 03:07 PM
I supply all uniforms from boots to hats everything is supplied by cintas the uniform company except the boots, for the boot I give a $50.00 gift card to dicks every Christmas.:cool: :cool: :cool: :cool:

03-22-2004, 01:59 AM
Everything's negotiable. That's just common sense isn't it?

But I will say that requiring employees to buy uniforms tends to leave a bad taste in their mouths and I think it's penny wise and pound foolish.

If you're worried about new hires running off with $100 or more of uniforms, deduct it from the first check with the stipulation that if they last a certain period you return the money to them.

I worked for a company that made me make employees pay for uniforms and that had to be the biggest single complaint I heard from them. It's just cheap and petty.

03-22-2004, 09:33 AM
Originally posted by GrassBustersLawn

I don't know about you, but I DON'T WANT THEM KEEPING MY SHIRTS AFTER THEY HAVE LEFT EMPLOYMENT. Don't want them going to bar and starting a fight wearing MY SHIRTS!

Heard of a TX landscaper who saw one of his shirts on the evening news - it was being worn by a former employee who'd been arrested.