The US Department of Labor recently issued Administrator signed Opinion Letter FLSA2008-10. Although Opinion Letters only apply to the exact set of facts and circumstances presented in each case, they are a valuable aid in understanding current interpretations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This Opinion Letter discusses whether employers must pay for replacement uniforms for employees who repeatedly damage uniforms in non-work-related activities.
A tipped employee who worked in a dining facility received $2.13 in cash wages and the employer claimed a tip credit so that the employee received at least the federal minimum wage. The employer requires the employee to wear a uniform that is provided by the employer at no cost to the employee. The employer provides an adequate number of uniforms to employees “relative to the nature of their work assignments and job duties.” The uniform does not require any special laundering.
One employee damaged several uniforms while riding a skateboard on days that he wasn’t working. The employer wanted to know if it must continuously replace such uniforms at no cost to the employee or if the employee could be charged for the uniforms. Employers may not charge directly or indirectly for uniforms required as a condition of employment if the charge would reduce the employee’s wages below the required minimum wage or overtime pay. The employer must also replace uniforms damaged at work using the same guidelines. Employers may charge, however, both for additional uniforms voluntarily purchased by any employee beyond the normal allotment and for uniforms damaged by the employee during personal use without violating the FLSA.
State laws may provide rules that are more beneficial to the employee and must be followed. Contact Vision Payroll if you have questions about this Opinion Letter.