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If an employer requires employees to dress a certain way for work does this amount to a deduction for national minimum wage purposes?

It has recently been reported that Wagamama has been required to repay £133,212 to 2,630 workers because of a requirement to wear casual black jeans or a skirt which was not reimbursed. Also, TGI Fridays have reportedly been required to repay £59,348 to 2,302 workers in relation to a requirement to purchase black shoes as part of a uniform.

So where do businesses which do not have a formal uniform but do have a strict dress code (and may therefore be classed as a reduction for the purposes of National Minimum Wage (NMW) stand?

Where an employee is required by their employer to wear a “uniform”, the cost the employee incurs in buying the required uniform is “expenditure in connection with the employment”, and therefore reduces remuneration for national minimum wage compliance calculation purposes.

This appears to be the case irrespective of whether the employee buys the uniform from the employer or a third party, and regardless of whether the uniform is a uniform in the traditional sense (such as a branded outfit) or a more general requirement to wear a certain colour or type of clothing – this is even if it is something that the employee may be likely to already own and which could reasonably be worn outside of work.