Laundering uniforms not employer’s responsibility

Caretaking employees had to wash own uniforms while security staff had theirs dry-cleaned by employer
|Canadian Employment Law Today|Last Updated: 11/28/2013

A Manitoba university does not have to compensate its caretaking employees for the cost of laundering their uniforms, despite the fact it compensates security staff for such expenses, an arbitrator has ruled.

The University of Manitoba had a clause in its collective agreements with both its caretaking employees and security staff that stated: “The employer may require the employee to wear a uniform or other special article while performing duties and the employer shall provide and maintain same without deduction from the employee’s salary.” The university paid for and arranged for the laundering of security uniforms, but caretaking staff were expected to wash their own.

The union for the caretaking employees filed a grievance claiming the university violated the collective agreement by not following the uniform clause and providing for maintenance of their uniforms. Though the wording of the clauses was the same, the university maintained it was different for security staff because their uniforms required dry cleaning. Caretaking staff had uniforms that were easy to wash at home at little cost. All employees received more uniforms when deemed necessary.