Dress code at work – do you need one?

Are dress codes in the workplace something we worry about in 2018?

It depends on the workplace setting.  Some businesses such as accountants and solicitors still prefer smart dress. Health workers have to wear scrubs for hygiene reasons and many workers need to wear safety clothing.

Is a dress code important?

If there is a need for a dress code then a policy can help when getting the message out there.  It can also help to make sure standards are met.

A uniform can give a great impression.  While jeans and T-shirts are just as practical, a branded uniform looks professional.  It can also give your employees a sense of belonging to the team and helps customers find your workers more easily.

What are they wearing?

Sometimes what employees wear to work can be distracting or fall below health and safety standards.  You might also have issues with hygiene standards.  A dress code helps make it easier to deal with these issues.

How to introduce a dress code

If you want to have a dress code – ask your staff what they think to avoid a dip in morale. Employees may feel that dress codes are less important or have strong views on the subject.  It’s important to get their buy-in if making changes.

Think about whether it is fair and reasonable for both sexes, those with religious beliefs or disabilities.  Last year, after being sent home from her temp job for refusing to wear high heels, Nicola Thorp started a petition calling for a ban on forcing women to wear high heels.  It collected over 100,000 signatures.

Having a dress code with Health and Safety in mind

It is very important, of course, to let staff know what they need to wear for health and safety purposes in more risky workplaces such as factories, labs, industrial units etc.

If it is important to your business, it’s a great idea to have a clear dress code outlining dos and don’ts when it comes to safety.  Employers must pay for personal protective equipment required (such as safety shoes and jackets).  Make clear if you will issue the clothing or expect them to claim the cost from you.

Is enforcing a dress code worth the effort?

Strict dress codes can affect morale. However, it is important to weigh up the need for a uniform or a dress code against allowing employees to wear what they are comfortable in. Employees can see a relaxed attitude to dress in the workplace as a perk of the job.  If you need any support with this tricky issue, please contact me.

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