What constitutes a work uniform?

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What constitutes a work uniform?

I noticed that under CO law an employer must pay for a uniform but is not required to pay for cleaning if it is not a company supplied uniform. I am required to wear black shoes, that must be polished, black socks, pressed black pants, long sleeve black shirt and a black belt. They supply a black vest. Are they required to pay for my clothes under the law?

Asked on August 3, 2011 Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No, a company has NO obligation to pay for an employee's clothes. Almost every company has, or could have, a dress code: restaurants may require white shirts and black slacks, banks and law firms require suits, construction workers need to have heavy, reinforced boots, etc. Companies may, as part of their general right to set conditions on employment, specify what workers must wear, and they do not have to pay for the clothing.

Even worse: if the clothing is not a uniform, but is rather clothes that you *could* wear elsewhere (even if you never do), then you may not claim their cost as a business expense or deduction under the Internal Revenue Code. Every attorney out there, for example, would love to be able to deduct the cost of suits, ties, dress shirts, etc.--especially since no one wears suits in their free time, not since the 1950s--but it's not allowed.

Paying for your work clothes is simply a cost of being employed, unfortunately.


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