Can I charge employees for uniforms in New York?

If you want to keep uniform costs down, choose an alternative or keep it simple.

If you require your New York employees to wear a specific uniform, you'll need to provide them with enough clothing to get through their average number of weekly shifts, and you may have also have to pay to have the uniforms cleaned. 

According to the New York State Department of Labor, the best way to avoid uniform maintenance fees is to establish a dress code instead. Here are some tips on establishing a low maintenance policy:

  • Allow employees to wear ordinary clothing of a specific color or style.
    • Regular, basic, street clothing, which an employee can wear while not at work, is not a required uniform. For example, black pants, white dress shirt, black polo shirt, etc.
    • Don't be too specific about brands, details, or stores where the clothing should be purchased. 
  • Provide a nametag or apron that an employee wears with regular clothing or with a dress code.
    • Keep the nametag or aprons at the workplace and clean them yourself.
  • Purchase and provide a required uniform that is “wash and wear.”
    • This is a uniform that an employee can easily wash with regular clothes, and can wear to work without dry cleaning, ironing, etc.
    • Give each employee enough of these uniforms to wear, consistent with the average number of days per week worked by the employee.

For more information, see the DoL's Guidance for the New York State Hospitality Industry on Uniforms.