What is appropriate attire for the workplace?

14 Nov
by Suzie Business Owner & Senior HRBP

As we all know, there are various different environments in which people work but when should companies enforce dress codes? Obviously, certain workplaces require the use of PPE for health and safety reasons. Some employers, such as fast-food outlets, retailers and airlines provide uniforms for their staff in order to maintain a brand image. What about other environments such as a marketing company or insurance broker? What can be deemed inappropriate attire, especially with the recent heatwaves in the UK over the Summer and employees trying to keep their cool? Flip-flops? Vest tops?

The purpose of a dress code:

  • Create a smarter appearance
  • Maintain brand awareness
  • Increase productivity
  • Outline appropriateness
  • Strengthen unity
  • Prioritise health and safety
  • Ensure pride and responsibility

Dress codes and discrimination?

In 2016, temporary Receptionist, Nicola Thorp was sent home due to refusing to wear high heels as per the policy of the company she was working at, PwC. After asking if wearing flat shoes would impair her ability to do the job in question and, also, if male employees were also asked to wear high heels, she said she was laughed at and sent home without pay, which sparked a widespread debate.

What about religion? Some cultures and religions require people to wear certain items of clothing. Unless the employees’ clothing causes harm to other employees or the company, the organisation should reasonably accommodate these religious beliefs or practices.

Benefits of a dress code for employees…

  • Not having to decide what to wear to work every day
  • Reduced clothing costs if the company provides a uniform
  • Boosts motivation and confidence

How to implement a dress code

  • Establish why you need a dress code
  • Involve your employees
  • Communicate effectively throughout the organisation
  • Be realistic to the environment. Do you need more than one dress code (eg factory AND office)?

If you’re a professional, who required further information, take a look at these guidelines of what NOT to wear.

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