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Can Nevada Hospitality Employers Classify the Cost of Uniforms as Wages?

Many employees in the hospital industry wear uniforms. While some uniforms carry a small logo or name of the employer, others are garish and unique. Regardless of which description an employee uniform falls under, Nevada hospitality employers are often confused on whether they can classify the cost of providing a uniform to an employee as wages to the employee.

Employee uniforms, required and paid for by the employer, are generally deductible as a business expense to the employer. The employer can also take a deduction for any cost incurred to maintain the uniforms. However, under the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA), the cost of uniforms, even if required and paid for by the employer, cannot be considered as a wage to the employee.

If the employee is required to pay for his or her own uniform, the employer can not reduce the employee’s wage below the minimum wage. This means if the employer is paying the employee the minimum wage, the employer cannot take the cost of the uniform from the employee’s wages or require the employee to purchase the uniform. If the employee is being paid more than the minimum wage, the employer can take the cost of the uniform or require the employee to purchase the uniform. The cost or purchase price is equal to the difference between the hourly wage paid minus the minimum wage, times the number of hours worked in the workweek.

For instance, the minimum wage in Nevada is currently $8.25. If an employer pays an employee $8.75 an hour and the employee works 30 hours during the workweek, the maximum amount the employer could legally deduct from the employee’s wages or require the employee to pay for the uniform is $15.00 (($8.75-$8.25)x30 hours).

To avoid dropping an employee’s pay below minimum wage, an employer may prorate deductions for the cost of the uniform over a period of paydays. The prorated deductions may not reduce the employee’s wages below minimum wage or overtime compensation owed in any workweek.

The Las Vegas law office of Lagomarsino Law did not represent anyone involved in any cases that may be referenced above. This commentary is for educational purposes. If you would like to be represented by an attorney in our Las Vegas office, contact our office for a free confidential case review and receive a response within 24 hours. Call Toll Free 866-414-0400.