Walmart’s New Employee Dress Code Sparks Debate

Photo (cc) by Kentuckyguard

Many Walmart employees are not happy that the retail giant is revising its dress code. Workers appear to be upset for one big reason: money. Updating a work wardrobe can be costly, and many Walmart associates have complained that they can’t afford the new look.

According to The Huffington Post, the new dress code requires workers to wear a collared blue or white shirt, black or khaki pants and a Walmart vest.

Although the vest will be supplied by Walmart, the employees have to pony up for the rest of the mandated clothes, Forbes said. Glassdoor says the average hourly pay for a Walmart associate is $8.83.

“Whether intentionally done for this reason or not, by choosing a dress code, not a store uniform, Walmart has completely and legally put the financial burden of the clothing intended to create a specific look on the employees and saved itself a lot of money, given that the company claims 1.3 million U.S. workers alone,” Forbes said.

According to HuffPo, Richard Reynoso, a California Walmart employee, wrote a letter to Walmart saying he can’t afford to purchase new clothes on his Walmart wages. He said three new outfits for work would set him back $50.

“The sad truth is that I do not have $50 laying around the house to spend on new uniform clothes just because Walmart suddenly decided to change its policy,” he wrote. “If I have to go out of pocket for these new clothes, I’m going to have to choose which bill to skip.”

Walmart has been quick to remind employees that they can use their employee discount to purchase work-appropriate clothing at Walmart. According to CBS MoneyWatch, OUR Walmart, a union-backed organization advocating for Walmart workers, said the retail giant could actually profit from the new dress code.

Based on the prices provided by Walmart, the company could end up with as much as $78 million in new sales, thanks to its workers buying new khakis to meet the dress code, according to an estimate from OUR Walmart.

Walmart officials told MoneyWatch that the multimillion-dollar figure is based on “a lot of assumptions.”

In other Walmart news, the super retailer said it plans to hire at least 60,000 temporary holiday workers, 10 percent more than last year. CBS News said:

The world’s largest retailer also emphasized that current workers who want more hours during the holidays will get priority. The retailer has been criticized by labor groups for low pay and intentionally keeping employees’ hours low.

When I was in high school, I worked at a movie theater making minimum wage. Our dress code was black dress pants, black shoes, white dress shirt and a black bow tie, all of which we were expected to purchase ourselves. I bought two pairs of pants and two shirts (because that’s all I could afford) and I rotated them, washing the clothes after every wear because they were stained with butter and soda.

What do you think of Walmart’s change in dress code? Is it really a uniform that Walmart should pay for? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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