Employee Uniforms

09 March 2023

How your staff represent your business is crucial. Having a clear uniform or dress code in place is a great way of creating a professional appearance.

Many benefits come from having uniforms, but when incorporating them into your business you must avoid discrimination. If not, you could end up with legal claims being raised against you.

In this guide, we'll discuss different types of dress codes, the benefits of having uniforms, and tips to follow when choosing yours.

What is an employee uniform?

A uniform is a set of specific clothing items that must be worn in the workplace. A company uniform is typically branded with the business name or logo, making it obvious who someone works for.

Whilst not all businesses require uniforms for their employees, employers with some customer-facing staff will often choose to implement them.

What is a dress code?

A dress code is a clear set of rules that outline what is deemed acceptable workplace attire. Most of these rules will include rules on jewellery, appearance and personal hygiene.

An employee wearing PPE and a protective jumpsuit

Is employee uniform a legal requirement?

No, there's no obligation under employment law for uniforms in Ireland. However, it must be worn in some industries for health and safety reasons. For example, employees must wear protective gear in manufacturing for their own safety.

However, it's important to remember this is at no cost to your employees.

What are the different types of dress codes for work?

There are many different forms of dress codes that you may choose to implement in your business. Below are common examples:

  • Business formal: This includes smart suits or dresses, often found in the corporate world.
  • Smart-casual wear: This can include a combo of semi-smart and more casual clothing.
  • Grooming: This can include rules on facial hair and hair length.
  • Hygiene: This can vary from personal hygiene to wearing clothing that's deemed not presentable.
  • Summer attire: This may include the option to relax the dress code due to warmer weather.

Two people working in a cafe with uniform

Benefits of employee uniforms

There are many benefits for companies that introduce uniforms. These can range from marketing benefits to overall employee productivity. So let's discuss them in more detail:

Keeps employees safe

Under the Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, employers must ensure the safety, health and welfare of their employees whilst at work. This includes providing protective clothing and equipment to your employees.

The employer must also supply suitable footwear and communicate the risks that require them to wear protective clothing.

Failure to provide the above can lead to serious breaches of safety laws, serious injury or even death.

Increases customer trust

Having a well-designed work uniform or attire can go a long way in increasing your customers' trust in you. Uniforms help to show how serious you are as a company.

A smart uniform is the best way to make a good first impression and make your organisation look strong.

Helps to create a positive impression

Incorporating uniforms in the workplace can help make your group of staff look like a team. Having a uniform with your business logo on can leave a positive impression on current and potential clients.

They also enhance your company image, leading to a sense of professionalism in your employees when carrying out their duties.

Creates an equal workplace

A uniform helps to create an equal place to work for your employees. It removes the opportunity for some of your employees to bully others for not wearing certain styles or brands.

Providing uniforms can make all your staff feel a sense of belonging to your company, leading to increased focus and productivity.

Successful marketing tool

A strong uniform can help your company stand out from your competition, improve your image and drive revenue. In essence, it gives you an advantage over other businesses.

Incorporating uniforms into your business can end up saving you money in advertising costs.

Creates a sense of employee pride

Having a uniform can go a long way in creating a sense of pride for your workers. A smart and high-quality uniform can make your employees to be proud to work for you. This can have an immense impact on both their confidence and their attitude.

two warehouse workers stacking shelves

Tips to follow when choosing a uniform for your company

Employee uniforms should be both practical and comfortable, so below are some tips you should follow when choosing yours. Let's discuss them in more detail:

Ensure brand consistency

Each item of your uniforms should be the same across the board. Customers will likely notice these inconsistencies, which could lead to them questioning the quality of your company's output.

You must maintain the same colour, logo and font across all your uniforms.

Listen to employee feedback

It's important you don't request employees wear inappropriate uniforms for the job they'll be doing. To avoid this you should communicate any ideas you have and listen to any feedback they have.

Not doing so may lead to a decrease in uniform compliance, and an increase in employee unhappiness.

Avoid discrimination

When choosing a uniform for your business, you must avoid discriminating against someone's gender or identity. This applies to both individuals and smaller groups. If employees feel discrimination is present in your workplace, they may raise claims against you.

Examples to avoid are:

  • Failing to acknowledge any religious clothing requirements, such as turbans or headscarves.
  • Failing to make reasonable adjustments for employees with health conditions or disabilities. For example, not allowing someone to wear comfortable shoes instead of smart ones.
  • Forcing men to be clean-shaven or women to wear heels.

Create a work attire policy

To manage employee uniforms and work attire correctly, you must create a policy. Your policy should include the following:

  • Outline the importance of employee uniforms and dress codes.
  • Items of clothing that are acceptable and unacceptable.
  • The potential consequences for not sticking to the rules.

You could also include a dress-down option once a week, typically on a Friday. Any procedures you create in relation to uniforms should be included within your employment contracts.

Get expert advice on employee uniforms from Peninsula

For all business owners, how their employees represent them is vital. Not having uniforms could have negative impacts on your company.

So it's crucial you understand the benefits that come with having uniforms for your employees. But, you must avoid discriminating against a certain group of employees.

Peninsula offers 24/7 HR advice which is available 365 days a year. Want to find out more? Contact us on 0818 923923 ; and book a free consultation with one of our HR consultants.

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