The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry is responsible for enforcing the state's employment wage and hour laws. Pennsylvania employers can require their employees to wear work uniforms, and in limited circumstances they may require them to purchase their uniforms at their own expense. However, if they require them to pay for their work uniforms, their hourly wages must not fall below the minimum wage or affect their overtime pay.
Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act
The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act requires employers to pay their employees at least $7.25 per hour, or the same minimum hourly wage as required by federal law. Although there are a few exceptions for employers to pay a limited group of workers less than minimum wage, most employers are required to pay their employees at least $7.25 per hour. Employers exempt from the minimum wage laws include those who hire farm laborers, newspaper deliverers, private domestic household employees, students, golf caddies, elected officials, amusement park employees and professional, executive and administrative employees.
Pennsylvania Overtime Law
The Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act also requires employers to pay their employees overtime compensation at time and one-half if they work more than 40 hours per week, unless specifically exempt by Pennsylvania law. Although federal law allows employers who pay their employees at least $445 per week, or $23,660 annually, to receive an exception to the overtime requirements, Pennsylvania does not provide a salary exception.
Federal Uniform Law
Under federal law, employers can require their employees to wear work uniforms, but generally, the company should pay for them as a qualified business expense, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act does not mandate work uniforms for employees. As such, the U.S. Department of Labor's opinion is that mandatory work uniforms are permissible, and while employers should pay for them, the company may nonetheless require its employees to pay for the uniforms. However, employers must pay their employees at least minimum wage and overtime, as necessary, after deducting the costs of their work uniforms and other incidental cleaning expenses from their paychecks.
Permissible Uniform Deduction Example
The U.S. Department of Labor's Fact Sheet covering work uniform expenses provides an example of how the federal minimum wage laws relate to employers' work uniform deductions. If an employer pays his employees $7.75 per hour, and his employees work 30 hours per week, he cannot deduct more than $15 per week for the cost of his uniforms. Since the Pennsylvania minimum wage law is identical to the federal minimum wage law, Pennsylvania employers can charge their employees for work uniforms but cannot pay them less than minimum wage and must pay overtime, as necessary.