Uniforms & Tools

The term “uniform” includes wearing apparel and accessories of distinctive design or color.  Ordinary work clothes are not considered uniforms when the employees have free choice of what to wear. When the employer specifies the design or color or requires that an insignia be affixed, it is considered a uniform.

An employer who requires uniforms to be worn by employees as a condition of employment have a duty to provide and maintain that uniform.  must be provided and maintained by the employer.  White nurses’ uniforms and black and white uniforms for service personnel need not be supplied to employees by the employer, as these uniforms are standard in their industries and can be used from one job to the next.  (Dept. of Industrial Relations v. U.I Video, 55 Cal.App.4th 1084 (1997))

When an employer-furnished uniform requires minimal time for care (e.g., requires only washing and tumble or drip drying), the employee may be required to maintain his/her uniform.  When a uniform requires ironing, dry cleaning or patching/repairs due to the nature of the work, employers have a duty to maintain the uniform or provide a maintenance allowance.  If an employer fails to provide a uniform allowance, the employee is entitled to reimbursement for whatever costs he/she incurs for maintaining the uniform.

If an employer requires an employee to have certain tools or equipment, or if such tools are required to perform the job, the employer must provide and maintain them.  An employee who is paid at least twice the minimum wage, however, may be required to provide and maintain hand tools and equipment customarily required by his/her trade.  One notable exception to the rule that the employer must provide tools is beauty salons and barbershops.

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