Wal-Mart’s Low Wage Problem Pops Up Again Over Dress Code

Seriously, Wal-Mart can't buy their workers new uniforms?

walmart storeWages for Wal-Mart workers have been a topic of discussion for a while now. Though there have been a number of stories explaining why their low pay is a problem for everyone, including the retail giant itself, there’s not much being done on the issue.

One thing Wal-Mart is tackling is the uniform non-issue. Once again, the company has changed the dress code. And the workers aren’t happy for a number of reasons. Among them, they can’t afford the new uniform on the money they’re being paid.

On September 29, there will be a new dress code implemented for Wal-Mart sales associates: khaki or black pants, capris or skirts, a white or navy blue collared shirt and closed-toe shoes. Over this outfit (clearly inspired by #NYFW), associates have to wear the Wal-Mart vest, which is being brought back from the dead where it belonged. The vest is the only thing that the billion-dollar company will pay for. Otherwise, as the chipper Walmart HR exec Barbara Simone says in her too-chipper message to staffers, they’ll be expected to purchase the rest of the outfit on their own dime, using the 10 percent employee discount they’re allotted.

Gawker got its hands on the dress code announcement and some of the reactions from Wal-Mart workers, normally restricted to just for employees. And some of the responses are both sad and rage-inducing.

With all due respect to the company, this is more of a financial burden to our family since this is our only source of income with my wife and two kids. We can hardly afford to live on my income now with us having to pay for a new uniform (aside from the vest). It’s silly. The uniform we have now works. Why change it?”

On top of that, there are other real problems that the staffers would like the company to address, such as stifling heat in some of the stores and a lack of product on the shelves.

The dress code is meant to make associates more visible on the sales floor, but another issue that has come up is understaffing. A spokesperson, Brooke Buchanan, told Business Insider they’re unaware of any staffing deficits. Well, consider yourself made aware Brooke!

Staffers will tell you what they think if given the opportunity. It’s up to the company to listen and take those bits of information to heart. Buchanan says that workers should express concerns because they want to serve customers better, but you also have to provide a good working environment for the people in your ranks. Something workers are saying unequivocally they don’t have.

It may not seem like a big deal, but these stories are chipping away at Wal-Mart’s reputation, a valuable thing in this day and age. The company ought to rethink the way it approaches worker conditions, which is a hot topic these days as the minimum wage is being reconsidered and protests persist across the country. Also, reconsider those uniforms. That vest really is an eyesore.

Image via Ken Wolter / Shutterstock.com

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