Some employers charge their employees for the cost of necessary supplies through payroll deductions. These supplies can include uniforms and tools. This conduct, while maybe undesirable, is not necessarily illegal.

Federal Labor Law and Payroll Deductions

Federal labor law allows employers to deduct the cost of supplying uniforms and tools from their employees’ paychecks. Employers are also allowed to deduct the cost of cleaning and maintaining those supplies. 

Minimum Wage Limitations

The only limitation imposed by federal law involves minimum wage. The amount being deducted cannot drop the employees’ wages below the federal minimum wage. 

Therefore, if an employee earns the minimum wage, then they do not have to pay for supplies at all.

State Laws and Payroll Deductions

In addition to the federal law, it is a good idea to check your state’s labor laws. Many states offer more protections for employees than federal law does. For example, New Jersey prohibits employers from charging employees for uniforms that have a company logo, while California and Massachusetts ban charging employees for the cost of tools. 

Do I Need Legal Help?

An experienced employment law attorney should be able to tell you if your employer is violating any laws.