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HMRC internal manual

Employment Income Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Other expenses: clothing: uniforms

A deduction can be permitted for clothing that is recognisably a uniform or part of a uniform, where the employee is required by his or her duties to wear it and must bear the cost of it. A uniform in this context means a set of clothing of a specialised nature that is recognisable as a uniform and is intended to identify its wearer as having a particular occupation. Examples include traditional nurse or police uniforms.

It is not enough for the clothing to be uniform in the sense that all employees in the same employment wear clothing of a similar design or colour. For example, a Bank may wish to reinforce its corporate image by requiring all counter staff to wear a shirt or blouse in the corporate colours of blue and green. That clothing is not a uniform for this purpose and no deduction can be permitted for the cost of acquiring such clothing.

Fixing a permanent and conspicuous badge to what would otherwise be ordinary clothing may be enough to make it a uniform, but each case must be considered on its merits. The essential test is whether the employee would readily be recognised as wearing a uniform by the person in the street. A detachable badge is not sufficient to make the clothing to which it is attached part of a uniform.

Formal evening dress which, because of the customary practice of a particular occupation, is habitually worn on a day to day basis while performing the duties (for example, dinner jackets worn by waiters) may also be accepted.

Even where you accept that an employee wears a uniform it is likely that not all of the clothing they wear is part of that uniform. No deduction should be permitted for clothing that is not part of the uniform. For example, shoes, socks and underwear.

The guidance on uniforms is illustrated by examples EIM32476 and EIM32477.

In cases where the uniform or clothing remains the property of the employer, see also EIM32478.