Special Clothing

“I’d like my employees to wear certain clothing for work. What can I require?”

Your HR Survival Tip

Many companies like employees to follow a clothing theme that includes the company logo, matching the company colors, or just a standardized look. It’s possible to dictate everything from a hat down to shoes but what you dictate will depend on what you’re willing to pay for that look. Below are some of the possibilities:

Logo Wear: If you want employees to wear clothing with your logo, you need to provide that clothing, and in a quantity that will last a week. The company is responsible for paying for this clothing but you can ask for a refundable deposit you pay back when they return the clothing. You are also responsible for the cleaning of this clothing but, instead, it can be a small reimbursement paid each pay period.

Shirts and Pants: When you require employees to wear certain colors or styles of shirts and pants, whether you must pay for it will depend on your requirements. If the colors and styles are fairly common and can easily be worn elsewhere, it’s unlikely you’ll need to pay anything. The more specific your requirements are, the more likely you’ll have to provide a clothing allowance. For example, if you want a goldenrod polo shirt and tuxedo pants to be worn, you should plan on paying for them. However, a broad definition of white shirts and black pants that can easily be worn anywhere eliminates the need for you to pay for that clothing.

Shoes: Often specific requirements about shoes are related to job safety. If you are in construction, you can require steel-toed shoes/boots and not have to pay for them because those shoes are required throughout the industry. The same is true of slip-resistant shoes in the restaurant industry. Closed-toe shoes are an easy requirement to have without having to pay for them. However, requiring everyone to wear a very specific shoe or an unusual color will likely be your responsibility.

The other side of specific things to be worn is the list of specific things you don’t want employees to wear. This list often includes t-shirts with sayings or pictures on them, spaghetti straps on tops, tops that are too short or pants that hang too low, flip-flops, etc. Think through your preferred dress code and create a policy that is enforceable… and affordable.

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