Do you have a dress code policy in your organization? A dress code policy designed for your industry. For certain positions, safety standards will guide dress codes. For other positions, it is driven by business standards. Some workplaces have uniforms, others define their standard as business formal, business casual, and so on. What is included in a dress code policy? Clothing, PPEs, shoes, perfume, jewelry, Tattoo, hair color – the list is long. Some policies do not specify the do’s and don’ts and leave it to policy administrators to manage. At other places, policies are very detailed and every time they find a new area of concern, it gets added to the policy.

Dress code policies communicate to employees what the organization expects to follow. It reflects the image the organization wants to convey. Employees are the face of the company and their dress and appearance impact the image of the company.

These policies should align with organizations’ goals and culture. These should also protect the employer from discrimination claims and protect employees’ rights. HR plays a vital role in maintaining a balance. In administering such policies, there should be room for accommodations if employees request.

We hear about different types of dress codes. So what are these?

Formal business attire are found in workplaces like law, finance, banking etc. No casual clothing or shoes are usually allowable.

Business casual is a little less formal and found in creative or artistic or technology environments. Casual does not mean you can wear shorts or tank tops or sandals.

It’s a Friday! Some organizations relax their rules fir Fridays and allow to dress informally, jeans will replace a dress pant on a Friday. 

Summertime is dreaded by many HR professionals. It brings up many discussions around dress codes. Shorts, Tank tops and flip flops surge their way to the workplace. HR offices are flooded with complaints. 

Grooming and hygiene standards might require that clothing be neat and clean and not inappropriate. It might also include a regular bath or shower, use of deodorant, and appropriate oral hygiene.

Employees might request accommodations due to disability situations like medical conditions. For example, an employee may ask to wear sneakers instead of dress shoes due to a back or foot condition. Such a request can be supported by a physician’s note.

Gender identity and accommodations must be considered as well. Employers may have to make accommodations for employees in transition or those choosing to express themselves as the opposite gender.

Health and safety guidelines should be primary in drafting dress codes for certain positions. Wearing personal protective equipment and safety gears must be required and followed. In situations where employees ask for exemption due to health or religious reasons, cases should be reviewed with appropriate authorities.

Be aware of what one would consider as discrimination against appearance and race. Policies should be neutral in their guidelines and approach.

Employers should make exceptions for religious expression when there is no undue hardship as a result of the exception.

Uniforms represent a more restrictive type of dress code. The nature of the business may require uniforms. Or it can be an employer’s preference. Employees might resist wearing them. For another, if customers or clients perceive the uniforms as inappropriate, the result can be negative feedback.

A dress and appearance policy should be clear and specific. Employers also want to ensure some flexibility. Managers may need to use some discretion when dealing with certain matters. Requests about disability, religious requirements or other case-specific issues that might need accommodations.

If you need help with your policies and processes, please contact us for a free consultation.