How to enforce a dress code

Peninsula Team

April 07 2014

How do I deal with an employee who refuses to abide by dress code? They regularly attend work wearing jeans and despite me voicing my concern they revert back to wearing their own clothes.  What action can I take?  It is perfectly legitimate for employers to tell employees to dress in a particular way at work. In some cases a particular kind of uniform is required in order to ensure the health and safety of the employee. This may not be the case in your organisation because, as you have said, you work in an office, but you will have equally good reasons to set minimum standards. It is understandable that employers want to set a good image of their organisation. Employees’ appearance no doubt contributes to that image and any wayward employees can create a sticky point if they do not maintain the professional ethos of the office. Employees’ appearance can be especially important to an employer if the employees are likely to come into contact with customers or clients, or general members of the public, and therefore act as ambassadors for the organisation. Where the appearance of an employee does become a problem, there are routes an employer can take to attempt to rectify it. Although the situation is not along the lines of gross underperformance of the employee, or misconduct such as stealing or fighting, if you set standards in your organisation, an employee should be expected to comply with them or face the consequences if they do not. Ensure that all of your employees are made aware of the dress code and have opportunity to read it for themselves. Once the dress code is implemented, it may make the employee in question realise that you take appearance seriously and it is something you intend to regulate, and smarten himself up. If, however, sometime after the implementation of the dress code, the employee has not begun to dress more appropriately for your office, you may need to take action individual to him. You should sit down with him privately and ask him whether there are any specific reasons which contribute to his continued inability to dress appropriately. If there is no genuine underlying reason, and still no continued improvement over a set time period, you could be treated as misconduct where the allegation would be based on a failure to follow a reasonable management instruction, and a disciplinary procedure instigated. A lower sanction warning is probably suitable at this stage. Continued monitoring should be undertaken, and further action taken where appropriate. Facing a similar situation? Call the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772. 

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