Employers should provide work equipment

There are times when it makes sense and times where it is absurd do it

(Keet Kailey) /(Flickr/faceliftphotos/Antonio Di Muro/UNL PSEP)

Equipment fees are a burden to employees. (Keet Kailey)

“Tools of the trade” is what it’s called, regardless of whether or not the job is a trade. Most work requires access to certain equipment to complete even the most basic tasks of the job. 

It is just as impossible for framers to build anything without hammers and saws as it would be for a chef to prepare any dish without knives and cutting boards. Workers need their tools to do their jobs, plain and simple. Nothing can be done safely or correctly without the right set of instruments.

But the question is who is responsible for that provision. Sure there are tax reliefs and reimbursements for workers who have to purchase required supplies. However, there needs to be a line where this idea crosses from practical to absurd. 

We must look at what type of jobs expect employees to pay out-of-pocket for equipment and examine the reasonability of these demands. One sector of the job market that places the burden of the price tag on its workers is the trades, which is the pinnacle of manual labour jobs. 

High-paying and back-breaking, the trades represent the ideal of good pay as a reward for hard work. However, it is also a line of employment where workers must pay to get paid. Ownership of one’s tools is a must, depending on the circumstances. 

A contractor who travels between worksites is more likely to own their equipment than one who operates out of a brick-and-mortar shop. Logistically speaking, this makes sense. Having one’s own equipment to take from home and directly to a worksite is more manageable than having to stop at another location along the way to make a collection. Plus, owning their tools makes it easier to become independent should the opportunity or need arise. 

Likewise, some safety gear, such as steel-toed boots or overalls, are not available in universal sizes, so an employee must purchase these things themselves and rightly receive compensation for it.

Paying out-of-pocket becomes ridiculous when workers bear the load of responsibilities that should not have been theirs to begin with. Imagine working at an office and being told that all employees must bring their own copy paper instead of relying on management’s delegates to provide the supplies. 

Teachers live such a ludicrous reality in maintaining their classrooms. What the parents do not provide for their kids is supposed to be under the purview of the school system. Yet, educators have to provide supplies with their own money due to failures in the system to adequately provide classroom supplies. 

This situation adds additional pressure to teachers while depriving students when the means eventually get stretched beyond capacity. Nobody is winning under these circumstances. 

Paying for your own work supplies is an annoying necessity at best, but a tragic failure of normal processes at worst. In an ideal world, all supplies would be provided by all employers everywhere. 

However, not all businesses are large enough to fund such endeavours, and the orchestration would be too logistically difficult to pull off successfully. It is a silly burden to place on employees when the purpose of working is for them to make a salary that they need to buy life necessities and pleasures. These entry fees are barring certain exceptions like transport and one-time instances that can be reimbursed with the right paperwork by either the company or the government.