Paymaster Magazine

All About Uniforms

Lifeguard claims he was fired for not wearing a Speedo

a 61-year-old man who claims he was fired from his Jones Beach lifeguard job of 40 years because he refused to wear a Speedo for the yearly swim test is suing the state for age discrimination.

Roy Lester believes neither he nor any other man his age has any business wearing the skimpy swimsuit.

“I wore a Speedo when I was in my 20s,” Lester, who was 58 when he says he was forced out of his lifeguard post . “But come on. There should be a law prohibiting anyone over the age of 50 from wearing a Speedo.”

I agree with the Speedo issue but it does raise the interesting issue of wearing a uniform that may be inappropriate for the position or the age of the employee. Luckily I only have to concern myself with the payroll issues related to uniforms. So ../……

In the GUIDEFOR EMPLOYERS IN RESPECT OF EMPLOYEES’ TAX the Receiver exempts the fringe benefit aspect of the uniform.

“Where it is a condition of employment that an employee is required whilst on duty

to wear a special uniform which is clearly distinguishable from ordinary clothing,

the value of such uniform given to the employee or any allowance made by the

employer to the employee in lieu of such uniform as is reasonable, is exempt

from tax.”

In South Africa many companies have a policy of uniforms so what are the rules.

1) If it is company policy to wear a uniform then it must be written in the employment contract and in the company’s policy and procedure manual. You must ensure that the employee understands that wearing a uniform is a condition of employment and failure to do so has clear consequences.

2) The company should provide the uniform to the employee either free of charge or at cost However the value of the uniform should be clearly visible on any documents that the employee signs to acknowledge receipt.

3) Alternatively the company should provide the employee with an allowance to purchase the uniform. This should be shown separately on the payslip and should not form part of taxable income. IRP 5 code will be 3714

4) Any contribution to keeping the uniform clean and in good repair will also fall under the non taxable category and should be shown on the IRP 5 certificate under the code 3714

5) Where additional uniforms are provided and paid for by the employee then the rules applying to this should be clearly spelt out in the contract of employment.

6) Should you want to deduct this money for additional uniforms from the employee’s salary then the employee needs to give you permission to do so (Section 34 of the Basic Conditions of employment act)

Adrian Baillie-Stewart

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