Required Tools and Uniform

Required tools and uniforms

An employer normally has the right to require employees to wear uniforms. California law defines a uniform as any “apparel and accessories of distinctive design and color” which an employee is required to wear. Usually, an employer must provide the uniform to the employees free of charge.

Employers typically have to provide uniforms to and/or compensate employees in the following situations:

  • Waitpersons: An employer must provide all uniforms with specific logos or designs to waitpersons free of charge;
  • Uniform Cleaning: Generally, employees are responsible for normal washing and drying of uniforms. If ironing, dry cleaning, or separate laundering is required, the employer must pay for it. Employers must compensate employees for uniform care at the rate of one hour per week at the California minimum wage or more, if that amount does not fairly cover the expense of this additional care; and
  • Tools and Equipment: Employers usually must supply and take care of all tools and equipment that are required by the employer or necessary to do the job.


Claims for tools and/or uniforms can be resolved either in a labor commissioner hearing or in court.

If your employer forces you to pay for tools uniforms or equipment that you should not have paid for, you can file a claim with the Labor Commissioner. You can also choose to take your employer to court to recover the money. It is always helpful to keep an accurate record of the money you are forced to pay for uniforms or tools; this information will help you if you decide to file with the Labor Commissioner or in court.

Security deposit for Uniforms, Tools, or Equipment

Normally employers may require a reasonable security deposit, up to the replacement cost of the item. Employees must be supplied a receipt for the deposit and must agree, in writing, to any conditions under which the employer may withhold the deposit. Employers must return the deposit, with interest, upon return of the items. No deductions may be withheld for normal wear and tear.

“Exempt” Employees
Employers do not have to provide uniforms for “exempt” employees. If you don’t know whether or not you are an exempt employee, contact us for assistance.

If you have questions about tools or uniform expenses, please contact Kletter Law by calling us at 415.434.3400 or contacting us online.

Kletter Law - San Mateo
1528 S. El Camino Real, Suite 306
San Mateo, CA 94402
Phone: 415.434.3400