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Uniform Allowances

Fact Sheet: Uniform Allowances


When employees are required to wear a uniform in the performance of their duties, agencies must either pay an allowance for a uniform not to exceed $800 a year or furnish a uniform at a cost not to exceed $800 a year.

Although agencies have authority to pay an annual uniform allowance rate up to a maximum rate of $800 a year, it is not anticipated or required that every employee who must wear a uniform will receive the maximum rate of $800 per year. Agencies are in the best position to identify and manage the specific uniform allowance needs of their employees.

Employee Coverage

The Office of Personnel Management's (OPM's) regulations on uniform allowances apply to civilian Federal employees in an "Executive agency" as defined in 5 U.S.C. 105.

Agency Policy

Under OPM's regulations at 5 CFR 591.103, any agency which provides a uniform allowance must establish a policy to administer the uniform allowance program. At a minimum, the policy should-

  • Identify the category of employees required to wear uniforms;
  • Establish requirements for determining the annual uniform allowance rate based on the specific uniform needs of each category of employees;
  • Require employees to provide evidence acceptable to the agency of the employee's purchase of one or more uniforms (e.g., receipts); and
  • Require employees to obtain uniforms that meet standards acceptable to the agency.

Agencies may use any standards acceptable to them to determine uniform appearance and any other specialized uniform requirements, such as safety requirements, if appropriate.

Higher Initial Maximum Uniform Allowance Rate

Under OPM's regulations at 5 CFR 591.104, the head of an agency may establish one or more initial maximum uniform allowance rates greater than the Governmentwide maximum uniform allowance rate established under 5 CFR 591.103

Before establishing a higher initial maximum uniform allowance rate, an agency must publish in the Federal Register for notice and comment-

  • A description and justification of the circumstances requiring a higher initial maximum uniform allowance rate;
  • An estimate of the number of employees affected;
  • The specific items required for the basic uniform and the average total uniform cost for the affected employees;
  • The amount of the proposed higher initial maximum uniform allowance rate to be paid during the year the employee first becomes subject to the uniform requirement;
  • The proposed effective date of the higher initial maximum uniform allowance rate; and,
  • The intent of the agency (if any) to divide the cost of a minimum basic uniform and continue to make higher initial maximum basic uniform allowance payments in the year following the year the employee first becomes subject to the uniform requirement.


  • 5 U.S.C. 5901 - 5903
  • 5 CFR part 591, subpart A

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