Keeping up appearances - Issues with employee dress code

Alan Price – CEO at BrightHR

January 19 2016

Employers may decide to impose a dress code for all their staff for a number of reasons, sometimes it can be due to health and safety reasons; sometimes it is to portray a respectable and consistent corporate image. Dress codes may vary in scope, with some just preventing jewellery to be worn, while others may have requirements on clothing, too. Dress code can be an important aspect of work etiquette, and it is key when presenting and maintaining a corporate image through your workforce. If a business wants to establish and maintain a corporate image specific to them, they usually have a Dress Code Policy. Usually, this policy should contain a description of the acceptable and unacceptable attire as well as the consequences and disciplinary procedure which will be followed in the event of a breach or a number of reoccurring breaches. If you become aware that some of your staff are not following the rules specified in your policy, the first step you can take is to remind them of it and have a discussion with the employee to see if there are any personal mitigating circumstances as to why they are breaching the policy. If need be, you can deal with breaches under your disciplinary procedure. A breach of your Dress Code Policy could be addressed as a failure to follow a reasonable management instruction. Best practice indicates that you should find out as many facts as you can about what has happened, invite the employee to a disciplinary hearing, inform them of the outcome and give them a right to appeal it. Usually, a quiet word in the ear early on will nip problems like this in the bud. Having a Dress Code Policy in place is part of good employment practice and if you do not have one, it is advisable that you take steps to create one. Remember that any workplace policy should be reasonable and should relate to the nature of the work carried out, as well as, the working environment. The dress policy should not discriminate against a particular group, but it can state different requirements for different sexes which rely on conventional differences. For example, it can require business dress for both men and women, but in addition it may specify a requirement for men to wear a tie or for men to have short hair provided that there is also rule a for women with long hair to tie it back.

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