Speak Up! - View Question #22627
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Question: can an employer make you pay for a uniform? can they deduct it from my paycheck before i am even given the uniform to wear? if i quit, do I get my money back if I turn in my uniform?
Your employer must pay you the minimum wage in Arizona, so he may not deduct the cost of your uniform from your paycheck if the deduction would reduce your pay below the minimum wage requirement.This includes paying for your uniform in your first paycheck. Your employer cannot ask you to pay the entire cost of your uniform in one check so that your resulting hourly wage is less than the Arizona minimum wage. If this happened, you could contact the Arizona Industrial Commission: Phoenix: (602) 542-4515 / Tucson (520) 628-5459. Your employer cannot get around this by asking you to pay for your uniform outside of your paycheck. The net effect would still be less money for you.
You may also have another argument against pre-payment. Asking you to pre-pay for the uniform negates the employer’s ability to ask you to pay for it. The law provides that the employer may ask you to bear the cost of the uniform if it is required by the employer. If you are working, but not in possession of the uniform, you are not wearing it while you work. It is not then not required by the employer, and therefore the employer would not have the ability to ask you to pay for it. However, be cautious with this argument. Your employer may respond that he is allowing you to work prior to getting the uniform, and may decide to prohibit you from working until the uniform arrives.The law does not provide for you to be reimbursed for the uniform if you return it.
Labor Law is covered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) and the State of Arizona.
Arizona’s Minimum Wage
Effective January 1, 2007, Arizona's minimum wage is $6.75 per hour.Every employer covered under the Act is required to pay each employee wages not less than this amount (regardless of whether an employee is full-time, part-time, or temporary) - unless the employee has applied for a special license to be paid less (A.R.S. §23-326). The Arizona Minimum Wage Act applies to all employers except:
• The State of Arizona;
• The United States; and
• Small businesses that are not subject to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act and which have less than $500,000 in gross annual revenue.
Note: This exclusion for small businesses under the Arizona Minimum Wage Act is very limited. Practically speaking, most Arizona small businesses will be subject to the Arizona Minimum Wage Act. This is because most employers, including small businesses, are subject to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
For more information regarding Arizona’s Minimum Wage Contact:
Department of Labor/Arizona Industrial Commission Youth Employment Laws
Phoenix: (602) 542-4515 or Tucson (520) 628-5459
Fair Labor Standards Act on Uniforms
The following has been taken from the U.S. Department of Labor website :
Fact Sheet #16:
Deductions From Wages for Uniforms and Other Facilities Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This fact sheet provides general information concerning the application of the FLSA to deductions from employees' wages for uniforms and other facilities.
The FLSA does not allow uniforms, or other items which are considered to be primarily for the benefit or convenience of the employer, to be included as wages. Thus, an employer may not take credit for such items in meeting his/her obligations toward paying the minimum wage or overtime.
Uniforms: The FLSA does not require that employees wear uniforms. However, if the wearing of a uniform is required by some other law, the nature of a business or by an employer, the cost and maintenance of the uniform is considered to be a business expense of the employer. If the employer requires the employee to bear the cost, it may not reduce the employee's wage below the minimum wage or cut into overtime compensation required by the Act.
For example, if an employee who is subject to the statutory minimum wage of $5.15 an hour is paid an hourly wage of $5.15, the employer may not make any deduction from the employee's wages for the cost of the uniform nor may the employer require the employee to purchase the uniform on his/her own. However, if the employee were paid $5.50 an hour and worked 30 hours in the workweek, the maximum amount the employer could legally deduct from the employee's wages would be $10.50 ($.35 X 30 hours).
The employer may prorate deductions for the cost of the uniform over a period of paydays provided the prorated deductions do not reduce the employee's wages below the required minimum wage or overtime compensation in any workweek.
Employers may not avoid FLSA minimum wage and overtime requirements by having the employee reimburse the employer in cash for the cost of such items in lieu of deducting the cost from the employee's wages.
Where to Obtain Additional Information
This publication is for general information and is not to be considered in the same light as official statements of position contained in the regulations.
For additional information, visit the Wage-Hour website: http://www.wagehour.dol.gov and/or call the Wage-Hour toll-free information and helpline, available 8am to 5pm in your time zone, 1-866-4USWAGE (1-866-487-9243).