Gov’t announcement on uniforms triggers employee grievances

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When NWPC posted an advisory about company uniforms being unpaid, many workers aired their grievances about their employers deducting the pay from their salaries. (THE STAR/File)

Regular employees aired their grievances over the National Wages and Productivity Commission’s announcement: “Company uniforms shall not be paid by employees.”

NWPC is a government agency under the Department of Labor and Employment tasked to oversee minimum wages and promote enterprise and workers’ productivity. It has an active Facebook page that posts advisories, holiday dates and other DOLE regulations.

When it posted a notice that company uniforms are supposed to be unpaid by the employees, people commented that the agency should the take initiative to inspect employers who disobey the advisory.

Under number seven of DOLE’s Labor Advisory 11 series of 2014, employers are not allowed to deduct the cost of company uniforms from their workers’ pay.

However, people commented that their respective employers are not adhering to the advisory.

The advisory states that such deductions are “unauthorized.”

Workers’ grievances 

Rica*, a sales clerk in a popular shopping mall, disclosed through an online interview with Interaksyon that their uniforms cost P990.

She said the recruitment agency didn’t shoulder the expenses, arguing that uniforms are the employees’ responsibility.

Rica was forced to shell out the amount from her own pocket to buy one set of the required uniform — a polo, the vest and the skirt.

Even though it was not specifically a deduction from her salary, it went against the NWPC’s mandate that “company uniforms should not be paid by employees.”

Mark*, another employee, shared that when he was a merchandiser in grocery stores, he and his colleagues had to pay for their aprons that cost around P150-P200. He added that their recruitment agency didn’t refund the fee.

Dino*, a utility worker, had a similar experience. He said his employer deducted P220 from his salary for his uniform. He was also working in a grocery store.

It’s for accountability 

According to Mara*, an HR admin and officer for five years, each company has its own policies related to the labor advisory.

Some companies set aside a budget for their employees’ uniforms. If it exceeds the projected amount, that’s when employers would deduct it from workers’ salaries, she explained.

“70/30 ang hatian,” she said, referring to the bigger cut shouldered by companies. “Bawal ‘yung whole amount.”

Lina*, an HR manager of a different company for five years, admitted that even though it’s not allowed, some companies still deduct the uniform expense from their employees’ salaries.

A group of uniformed workers on standby in a beach. (Pixabay)

Employees might also be bound to the expense because of previous abuses. Lina explained that if an employee does not make his uniform last for two years, for example, he has to pay a prorated amount for it.

“Ang purpose usually is to encourage accountability kasi some employees, since alam nila na provided sila eh, they don’t take care of the uniforms or winawala. It’s expensive, especially ‘pag mga hotel industry,” she continued.

She said company uniforms are free but if they get damaged or lost, that’s when an employee would pay for the whole sum.

* Not their real names.