Why have a uniform for my business?
There are a number of reasons why you may like to have a uniform for your employees, including:
- promoting your brand through the uniform
- giving your business a more professional look
- making it easier for customers to identify your staff
- safety reasons - you can make sure your staff are wearing the right protective clothing and footwear if it’s a compulsory part of the uniform for Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) reasons.
Your obligations as an employer
As an employer, if your employee is required to have a uniform in order to work for you, you generally are required to either:
- provide your employee with a uniform allowance to purchase the uniform
- provide your employee with a uniform free of charge.
Your obligations will vary depending on the industry you are in and the type of work your employee is required to do.
Check the Fair Work Ombudsman website for more specific information on Uniforms, vehicle and travel entitlements for employees based on your industry.
Providing a uniform allowance
A uniform allowance covers the cost of buying a uniform so that employees don’t have to pay for it out of their wage. You can either pay them in advance to buy the uniform, or reimburse them after they have bought the uniform.
Providing a uniform for employees
An alternative to a uniform allowance is to provide a uniform to your employees.
The employee is responsible for taking care of and washing the uniform and returning it to you if their employment ends.
Under certain awards, such as the Cleaning Services Award, the employee may also reasonably ask for more than one uniform.
Paying for washing costs
Some awards will also require you to pay an allowance each week or shift to cover washing costs where an employee has to wash a special uniform, dress or other relevant clothing.
Paying for damage to clothing
Under some awards , such as the Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award, you are required to reimburse an employee if they damage their clothing or personal equipment due to the nature of their work.
The amount you need to reimburse can depend on the type of clothing and how it was damaged.
Personal Protective Equipment
If an employee is required to wear Personal Protective Equipment (e.g. safety gloves, ear plugs, hard hats, lead vests) as part of their work, you can either provide the equipment to them or reimburse them the funds required to buy their own.
If they do buy their own, you need to check and make sure what they’ve purchased meets the minimum standards as required by WHS laws.
Learn more about Personal Protective Equipment on the Safe Work Australia website.
If your business has a uniform that is not compulsory, then you are not required to pay your employees a uniform allowance or provide the uniform to them.
However, it may be a good idea to offer certain incentives for your employees to wear your business uniform, such as a discount on the cost to purchase the uniform.
Be aware however, that if you do provide payments for non-compulsory uniforms to your staff, it may incur fringe benefits tax .