How To Implement A Workplace Dress Code

Peninsula Team

August 26 2009

Many employers expect their employees to dress appropriately for the job however surprisingly many do not officially set out the rules in writing. If you would like to implement a company dress code into your business, you can just call the 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772 and one of our trained specialists will be able to help tailor-make a policy for you.

There has recently been a number of Tribunal cases where people have objected to some of the rules in the workplace, particularly in relation to appearance. As an employer you are entitled to have a dress code and to enforce it. But it is vital that it is enforced equally. Standards of dress and personal presentation are important and many companies use their discretion to impose dress codes or uniforms upon staff.

Any dress code you introduce needs to be stipulated in staff handbooks and made clear to new workers. If you choose to set out rules relating to clothing and appearance, remember these must be both necessary for, and appropriate to, your employee’s job. If an employee chooses to ignore the dress code and refuses to adhere to it, you are able to begin disciplinary procedures questioning the reasons for non-compliance of the company dress code. However, you must ensure that you have enforced the dress code equally in order to bring about disciplinary procedures against an employee.

Where you have no clear rules, it is likely to be implied into the contract of employment that your employees will dress in a manner both suitable and appropriate to your business. If they have consistently adhered to this implied manner of dress, then through custom and practise, this would become a contractual term.

Some companies impose standards of dress and appearance to promote a corporate image or for reasons of hygiene. Particular minimum standards of personal presentation are expected of an employee in some jobs such as the service industry for example, where an employee’s duties bring him/her into contact with the public, or in manufacturing or construction, where hygiene and safety are paramount.

Dress codes can extend well beyond restrictions on clothing to cover, for example, styles and length of hair, facial hair, piercing and make-up. It is therefore important that you are aware that dress codes which unreasonably restrict employees’ personal freedom can lead to tension in the workplace and potential liability for unfair dismissal, sex discrimination, race discrimination and religious discrimination. It is therefore beneficial that these points are thought about when drafting up your dress code in order to make it effective.

Remember even if dress rules are justifiable, you must consider legitimate objections. For instance, if compliance results in an employee suffering discomfort or ill-health, your employee may be reasonable in refusing

Some companies do allow for dress down on occasions, e.g. casual Friday’ and these can be a beneficial addition to your business. Employees feel they are able to have some personal freedom in the way they dress and these days often promote better compliance with a stricter dress code as employees will often feel a sense of compromise in the policy.

Always remember that any dress code you put in place should be included in your employee handbook and equally enforced at all times. It may seem like a rather tedious issue to think about, however taking the time to implement a dress code will eradicate any chance of employees turning up at work dressed inappropriately.

The 24 Hour Advice Service is on hand to help with the drafting of a dress code policy for your business. To speak to one of our trained Advisors call 0844 892 2772 and they will be happy to help.

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