Is your company dressed for success? Or do you get a bit hot under the collar when you see what some of your employees wear for work?
The subject is becoming more important in the workplace – and more complicated as highlighted by the increasing number of legal cases being heard.
It is also now the subject of a research paper by the conciliation service ACAS.
In larger organisations, dress codes are often explicit and comprehensive, but many SMEs prefer to work more informally and have implicit guidelines. However, this is often where problems can occur!
There are many reasons why bosses may want a dress code for their company including:
- To project a corporate image.
- To ensure customers can easily identify them.
- For health and safety reasons.
- To create a sense of belonging.
- To project a professional image for the company to the public.
But employers must make sure any dress code does not infringe the Equality Act 2010 and should be non-discriminatory – applying to men and women equally.
An example of this recently was the publicity around a woman who was sent home without pay for refusing to wear high heels at work. After it was highlighted in the media and an online petition was launched, the firm decided to modify its rules.
Other issues to consider surround tattoos, body piercings, ‘dress down Fridays’ and religious dress.
Body piercings and tattoos are becoming more common – indeed an ACAS survey in 2014 found that almost half of women aged 16-24 had a non-earlobe piercing.
But employers may still feel that they are not appropriate – especially when dealing with the public – and may ask workers to remove the piercings and cover up the tattoos in these instances.
If this is the case, it would be best if the rules were written down and communicated clearly to staff so they understand what is expected of them. This is often not the case for small and medium sized firms.
‘Dress down Fridays’ or mufti days are often popular in offices – i.e., to raise money for charity, but again, while some bosses may be happy for this to happen, they might still want certain standards to be met, such as a ‘no flip-flops’ rule.
Issues around religious dress have also been highlighted in recent years, and employers are advised to tread cautiously in these area as they should allow groups or individuals to wear articles that manifest their religious faith.
If employers do wish to draw up or update a dress code, it might be well worth consulting with staff in a bid to reach a consensus which can then be communicated to all employees.
The ACAS research found that in SMEs dress codes are often informal and implied, so if you need help to get your staff looking their best, contact Ansa HR on 01270 446 444 for guidance through the increasingly complicated maze.