Introducing a Dress Code

Employees are representatives of the business and as such are an advertisement of the business. This should be borne in mind by employees when considering appropriate work attire.

An employer is entitled to stipulate a dress code or uniform be worn during working hours. A smart professional appearance is often a requirement of many working environments especially were employees come into contact with clients and member of the public.

A dress code can range from simple guidelines such as a professional appearance to the very specific including hair styles, jewellery and make-up. The other option is to introduce a uniform although this won’t be a suitable option for every industry.

Consistency and Fairness

You should ensure that all employees are aware of the dress code policy and ensure that it is applied consistently and fairly. It is fine however to stipulate a uniform or dress code for one department and none for another within the same department. So while sales reps may be required to have professional dress whilst working employees in the IT department who do not come into contact with clients are not required to adhere to a dress code.

One consideration to make is that if you are providing a uniform for your employees, you can charge the employee or alternatively supply a certain amount free and then charge for additional items ordered for the employee. Nevertheless it should be noted that this does not apply to clothing specified for health and safety purposes.

When looking at introducing the Company’s policy on uniforms, you should first and foremost include it in your employee handbook stating what standards you wish to be met. It is then crucial that this policy is directly linked to the Company’s disciplinary procedure by stating that a failure to comply with the code may lead to disciplinary action.

Discrimination issues

Whilst not as serious in terms of misconduct as theft for example failure to comply can still be dealt with through the disciplinary process. A first offence however might best be dealt with by a quiet word.

You must also be aware of possible discrimination issues, such as gender distinctions and religious beliefs, when introducing a standard of dress. For example stipulating no highlighted hair for men only, specifying skirts for women or stating no beads when some are worn for religious purposes may present an issue and put the Company in difficulty.

Above all the important points to remember are to be consistent in your application of the policy, ensure a clear policy is communicated to all staff, and be ready to listen to employees who request exemptions.