The internet was quick to rally around a group of employees on Tuesday when their supervisor revealed they are forced to pay for their own company uniforms in a viral post.
In a thread titled “Your staff looks unprofessional,” Redditor u/pacify-the-dead recounted their recent annual review with their company’s regional director. Initially posted on Reddit’s popular r/antiwork subreddit, the thread has received 38.1K votes and over 1,600 comments in just seven hours.
u/pacify-the-dead said their annual review was going smoothly until their regional director informed them that their staff looked “unprofessional” and asked if there was a reason why the Redditor’s staff wasn’t wearing the company’s uniform.
u/pacify-the-dead had a simple answer.
“Because they have to buy them,” they told their regional director.
According to the original post, the regional director responded that company uniforms are “only $10,” but still, u/pacify-the-dead stood up for their employees.
“We’re the lowest paid department here,” they said. “It takes more than an hour of work for them to buy a uniform, I wouldn’t buy one either.”
Although many employers require employees to wear a specific uniform to work, there are no federal laws that prevent employers from requiring employees to have to purchase those uniforms as well. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers provide “personal protective equipment,” otherwise known as PPE, “to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses.”
However, OSHA’s requirements for non-PPE work clothing are entirely different. While employers are required to provide protective equipment, “there is no OSHA requirement for employers to provide workers with ordinary clothing.” As a result, employers are not required to provide items “used solely for protection from weather,” like winter coats, hats, gloves or sunglasses, and they are also not required to provide uniforms to their employees.
According to Chron, the Fair Labor Standards Act does not require employees to wear work uniforms, but allows employers to mandate them. Despite recommendations from the Wage and Hour Division that employers provide uniforms and deduct them as business expenses, companies like the one described in u/pacify-the-dead’s original post still force employees to purchase their uniforms outright.
Like u/pacify-the-dead, other Redditors were incensed at the notion of employees paying for their own uniforms. In the thread’s top comment, that has received 12,000 votes, Redditor u/silentstinker was irate and said that if a company wants its employees in uniform, the uniform should come at no cost.
“That is some serious bullsh*t,” they wrote. “If a uniform is required then it should be provided.”
Thousands of commenters shared their horror stories about having to pay for their own work uniforms. Debating over employers charging employees for “flimsy” t-shirts and $90 Carhartt jackets, many Redditors agreed on one thing: if u/pacify-the-dead’s regional manager thought that their staff looked “unprofessional,” then they should be responsible for making sure the staff is provided with proper uniforms.
u/TennesseeTon reiterated that sentiment and mocked the regional director for their assertion that employees should be able to afford to purchase uniforms.
“‘But they’re only $10,’ okay so PROVIDE THEM,” they wrote.
Further explaining that their regional director ignored them and reiterated that their staff looks “unprofessional,” the thread’s author said they continue to fully support their employees, and that they will not comply with company policies.
“My staff will continue to look unprofessional, and I’m not going to ask them to spend their money on company clothes,” u/pacify-the-dead assured.