Employment legislation on uniforms

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Aprilis | 20:12 Thu 31st Aug 2006 | Law
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If an employer states in your contract that you must wear a uniform, is that employer allowed to tell you that you have to purchase your own, or are they duty bound themselves to provide any uniform that they are making you contractually obligated to wear? A friend has been given a contract stating that she must wear certain clothing for work in specific colours but that her employer will not provide it. Can they do this legally if this is referred to in the contract as a 'uniform' and not that she must comply with a certain dress code? Are there any of you wonderful ABers out there who can clarify if there is any employment lesgislation that covers this? I am away from home at the moment and internet access is limited so I will thank you in advance for any replies.


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I dont think there is any actual employment legislation specifically to cover this.

It has been found to be discriminatory to specify that men wear ties to work and not to specify a dress code for women. If it states in your friend's terms and conditions of employment ( different from a contract) that she has to wear certain clothing for work in specific colours, this is not quite the same as having to wear a uniform. Uniforms are usually provided or the employer gives employees an allowance. Lots of professions have to wear specific colours ie barristers although they do not receive extra payment for this. A few years ago a female barrister tried to claim tax relief on the buying of her work suits but I dont think she was successful. Your friend could always try that tactic via HMRC if she had to buy specific clothes for work. With all things contractual, its what is actually in the wording of the contract that is important and as most contractual law is civil as opposed to statutory, there's not a lot of protection within employment law

I dont know how far your friend is in accepting the terms and conditions but if she is not happy with the uniform terms, she can refuse to sign and resign her employment. Otherwise she could either try and negotiate an allowance from her employer or just accept things as they are if she enjoys her job.

A job is not the be all and end all of life
I haven�t the faintest idea of the answer to your question. I imagine a combination of your friend�s contract of employment, general employment law and, of course, the overarching Human Rights legislation (if your friend works for public body) would provide the answer.

However, I should like to pose one of my own. Why is it, that in response to what, on the face of it, seems a perfectly reasonable and innocuous request, your friend is reaching for her law books? I assume she is not being asked to dress in a short skirt, stockings and suspenders. So why not just do what the employer wants? After all, she has to buy some clothes to wear to work. Why not just buy some which will suit her employer? It will make him or her happy, might just provide a better working atmosphere for your friend and generally make life just that bit more bearable.

Even if your friend is �legally� in the right to deny this request, and succeeds in getting her own way, does she really think this is a good basis upon which to build an employer/employee relationship? Does she think her working life will be very pleasant?

We all have to make concessions in our working lives and life is too short to worry about such things. Your friend should comply with her employer�s reasonable requests or move on!
Unfortunately the employer can do this unless the uniform is part of P.P.E. (Personal Protective Equipment) If the uniform is for health and safety reasons then the employer is duty bound by the Health & Safety At Work Act to supply it - if the employer just wants everyone to wear a nice black and white uniform - or whatever colour, then yes he can stipulate this. Having said that, I doubt that the contract would stand up under judicial scrutiny, most don't.
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Ahhh...internet access at last! Thanks to all of you for your responses.

JudgeJ....this question appears to have antagonised you somewhat! It was posed out of curiosity rather than for my friend to create waves at work. Your opinion however, is most welcome.

I have to wear a uniform at work but it was provided by my employer. I am a Lab Technician and my lab coat is considered to be P.P.E and is therefore provided at my employers expense. However, last year they decided that they wanted all Techs in a uniform, despite the fact that our clothes are covered with a lab coat. The choice of uniform was left to us to agree on but our employer paid for it. As I am employed by the local authority I wondered if that was because they HAD to pay for it. Therefore it would stand to reason that my friend's employer might be liable to to pay for a uniform too.

My friend however, is a nursery assistant in a private nursery and in my opinion what her employer has requested is actually a dress code. However, It has been referred to in her contract (not terms of employment, it's actually in the contract) as a 'uniform' so I wondered what her position was in so far as the employer saying that she has to provide it herself.

Anyway, thank you all again for your replies.
My daughter works 2 shifts whilst at college at a hotel and they are changing the uniform and she has been told she has to pay for it can they do this

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Employment legislation on uniforms

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