Does My Employer Have to Pay Me for Dressing Up?

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If you work in a field that requires you to wear personal protective equipment, commonly referred to as “PPE”, or other equipment, your employer might have to compensate you for donning and doffing gear. We will explore the circumstances where paid compensation may be required by law. Read on to find out if you should be getting paid for the time you spend donning and doffing work gear.

But first, let’s define some terms.

Donning and Doffing

What is the Meaning of “Donning and Doffing”?

Simply put, “donning and doffing” refers to the putting on and taking off work gear, equipment, or specialized clothing. What you might don and doff varies widely depending on your profession. Many industries require an employee to don and doff protective gear, work equipment, or job-specific uniforms.

Why Is it Called Donning and Doffing?

The words donning and doffing have been used for centuries and were always associated with putting on and taking off clothes and accessories. However, in 1938, Congress enacted the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), which gave the words “donning and doffing” a legal Meaning.

The FLSA and similar state laws require that in certain circumstances, time spent putting on and taking off work gear, uniforms, and protective equipment is compensable and that, if such circumstances are met, the employer must pay their employees for time spent donning and doffing essential work-related gear, PPE or other equipment.

PPE vs. Work Clothes

PPE covers a wide range of equipment, from earplugs, hard hats, and safety glasses to full hazmat gear. According to OSHA, PPE is “equipment worn to minimize exposure to hazards that cause serious workplace injuries and illnesses. These injuries and illnesses may result from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other workplace Hazards.”

Work clothes are job-specific articles of clothing, like overalls, that can be heavier duty than street clothes but don’t necessarily offer protection in the same way that PPE would. Some work clothes, like what a chef might wear, can be put on at home. Such work clothing is not considered in the same category as a firefighter’s uniform, for example.

Time Spent Putting On and Taking Off Uniforms and Gear

In 1947, Congress passed the Portal-to-Portal Act, which further developed employee compensation. According to the legislation, compensable time is “all time during which an employee is necessarily required to be on the employer’s premises, on duty, or at a prescribed Workplace.”

Is Donning and Doffing Compensable?

Some pre- and post-shift time expended is not compensable. Employers do not have to pay for preliminary or postliminary activities outside of the principal duties for which an employee is hired. An easy way to see the distinction is driving to and from work. If driving is not part of your principal duties at work, then this time is not compensable. However, if your duties require that you drive from location to location, then this is probably compensable time.

What Are the General Provisions of the Portal-to-Portal Act?

The Portal-to-Portal Act provides that employees must be compensated for all duties performed as a principal part of the workday. In many professions involving working with hazardous materials, the employee needs to be prepped and suited on-site to perform their work duties, the time expended is fully compensable.

So, if donning and doffing PPE or other specialized equipment is an indispensable part of your workday, then you should be compensated. 

Likewise, if you need to don and doff PPE or other essential equipment during your workday – not preliminary or postliminary – then this is also compensable.

Are You Getting Paid for Donning and Doffing?

Speak with your employer to find out if you are being compensated for time spent donning and doffing. You may discover that your employer is not following the law and providing you with due compensation.

If You Haven’t Been Paid for Donning and Doffing, Contact We Stop Wage Theft

Contact WeStopWageTheft.com at 844-895-4899 (toll-free) or email us at info@westopwagetheft.com. if you’re not being properly paid for the time you spend donning and doffing PPE, uniforms, specialized equipment, or other essential gear.

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