Employee Uniforms and Dress Code Best Practices

Published March 28, 2017

Rules by Province for Buying and Maintaining Employee Uniforms

In many restaurants and other retail businesses, employees are required to wear uniforms. Who covers the costs to buy, clean and maintain a work uniform? Here are the rules for each province.

Alberta

Employers are allowed to charge employees for cost of purchasing, cleaning and maintaining a uniform, as long as it does not reduce the employee’s wage below minimum wage.  Employers may not deduct more than cost of uniform.  Employee must provide written authorization for specific amount to be deducted.  Full Details

British Columbia

If an employee is required to wear a uniform, the employer must provide, clean and maintain the clothing free of charge.  Full Details

Manitoba

Employers are prohibited from charging employees for uniforms.  Employers can ask employees to pay for the cleaning if the employer provides such a service, it directly benefits the employee, and employees can choose whether or not to use the service.  Full Details

New Brunswick

Not specified.  Full Details

Newfoundland and Labrador

Not specified.  Full Details

Nova Scotia

Employers may not charge or deduct the cost of cleaning uniforms from employees’ pay if it would result in the employee’s hourly rate dropping below the provincial minimum wage.  Full Details

Ontario

Employers may deduct the uniform costs from an employee’s wages if the employee agrees to the deduction in writing. Regulations on deductions for maintenance of uniforms/special clothing is not specified in the Employment Standards Act.  Full Details

Prince Edward Island

An employer may ask a deposit of up to 25% of the cost of the uniform, but must return the deposit when employment is terminated and the employee returns the uniform. Employers cannot charge or deduct cost of uniform. Regulations on cleaning of uniform not specified.  Full Details

Quebec

Employers must provide the uniform free of charge to employees making minimum wage. Deductions for providing and maintaining uniforms are not allowed if it results in the employee being paid less than the minimum wage. In the case where deductions are permitted, employees must consent to a specific amount in writing.

Saskatchewan

Employers may not charge the employee for providing, cleaning or maintaining a uniform.  Full Details

Staff Uniform and Dress Code Best Practices

Your food is amazing, your restaurant is well-planned and stylish, the furniture is comfortable and durable, your logo is perfect – but don’t forget about the uniforms! Your dress code or uniforms should echo the style and branding of your establishment. Make sure your employees are fully aware and on board – after all, if you have happy staff, you’ll have happy customers!

When creating a dress code for your establishment, consider the following:

  • Consider comfort and durability, especially given the often hot and crowded quarters kitchen staff work in. Lightweight fabrics, short sleeves and moisture-wicking material are good choices.
  • Ensure that male and female staff uniforms are equivalent or similar in terms of style and design, and ensure your dress code complies with provincial human rights legislation.
  • Ensure that your dress code allows for cultural and religious accommodations, such as head scarves and hair styles.
  • Think about functionality – for example, server aprons may require pockets for tablets and wireless payment systems.
  • Look for colours that fit with your logo and branding, and consider more than white or black in the kitchen. Chef jackets come in a multitude of colours.
  • Solicit employee input. When buying new uniforms, have your employees test them out and try on various sizes before placing a full order.
  • Make sure potential employees are aware of your dress code and uniform policy during the interview and hiring process.
  • Put your dress code in writing and include it in your employee manual so all employees are aware of it and any issues can be discussed.
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