During onboarding, it would not be unusual for an employer to ask a new hire to give written authorization for deductions from their final paycheck if the employee does not return employer provided uniforms, tools, or equipment. It also would not be unusual for employers to ask employees to supply their own equipment and tools, or clothing as a uniform when reporting for work.
In California, however, written authorization executed during the onboarding process will not suffice for reimbursement deductions at the time of termination. Additionally in California, employers cannot require employees to supply certain clothing, tools, and equipment without reimbursement.
When it comes to uniforms, federal law differs from California law:
Federal law: Federal law may allow employers to pass the costs of providing or maintaining uniforms to employees, as long as the employee’s pay would not drop below minimum wage in doing so.
California law: California law requires that employers pay for or reimburse nonexempt employees for all costs associated with uniforms, regardless of the employees’ compensation.