Ask HR: Can employer deduct for uniforms or tools?

Dear HR,

Can an employer deduct for the purchase of uniforms or tools from an employee’s paycheck?


HR Answer:

No. Payroll deductions may not be taken for any item required to perform the job.

Many states actually require the employer pay the cost of the uniform if the employer requires that an employee wear a uniform, including Oregon and California. The only exception to this rule is the requirement of a “generic uniform” which a minimum wage employee may be required to provide. An example of a generic uniform is a black skirt/pants and white blouse/shirt suitable for street wear.  The key to this exception is “suitable for street wear”. So, if you require your employees to wear a shirt with your company logo, you must pay for the uniform at your expense, not your employee’s.

In Oregon, employees who receive more than minimum wage may be required to purchase these items as long as the purchase does not take an employee below minimum wage in the pay period in which it was purchased. Also, the cost of the item may not be averaged over more than one pay period. NOTE: payroll deductions are not permitted.