Massachusetts law about employee uniforms

A compilation of laws, regulations, cases and web sources on employee uniform law.

Table of Contents

Federal laws

29 U.S.C. § 203(o) Fair labor standards act: hours worked
Employees do not need to be paid for time spent changing clothes at the beginning or end of the day, if that has been agreed to under a collective bargaining agreement.

Massachusetts regulations

454 CMR 27.02 and 27.05(4) 
Defines "uniform," explains when an employer must reimburse the employee for care of the uniform, and forbids the requirement of a uniform deposit without express permission. Also, differs from Federal law1 in requiring employers to pay for uniforms. While Federal law allows for deductions for uniforms as long as the employee's wages don't fall below minimum wage, Massachusetts law does not. 

An employee or prospective employee who is required to purchase or rent a uniform shall be reimbursed for the actual purchase or rental cost of the uniform.

Selected cases

Camara v. Attorney General, 458 Mass. 756 (2011) 
Because this decision limits the ability of employers to deduct from wages owed and is not limited to situations where the deduction would reduce the employee's wages below minimum wage, the Department of Labor Standards rescinded its opinion letter on deductions from wages for uniform maintenance.

Sandifer v. United States Steel Corp., __ U.S. __, 134 S.Ct.870 (2014)
Clarifies what "changing clothes" means in 29 USC § 203(o) and whether that time must be paid. "If an employee devotes the vast majority of the time in question to putting on and off equipment or other non-clothes items (perhaps a diver's suit and tank) the entire period would not qualify as 'time spent in changing clothes' under § 203(o), even if some clothes items were donned and doffed as well. But if the vast majority of the time is spent in donning and doffing 'clothes' as we have defined that term, the entire period qualifies, and the time spent putting on and off other items need not be subtracted."

Web sources

Uniform deposit waiver policy, Mass. Dept. of Labor Division of Occupational Safety 
Explains the "standards that will be applied by the Director in determining whether a request by an employer for a Uniform Deposit Waiver will be granted." See also, Uniform deposit waiver application.

Contact

Phone

Within Massachusetts only

Within Massachusetts only

Online

Reference librarians online Chat with a law librarian 
Reference librarians via email masslawlib@gmail.com

Address

Administrative office (no law library at this location)
2 Center Plaza
9th Floor
Boston, MA 02108

1 For federal rules, see 29 CFR 531.3(d)(2)(iii) , 29 USC §§ 201-219, and related case law. Federal law allows employers to deduct the cost of a uniform from an employee's pay, as long as the employee's wages after the deduction don't fall below the minimum wage.

Last updated: January 18, 2019
Feedback