Frequently Asked Employment Questions

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Topic: Company and staff handbooks

Can we insist that staff abide by a dress code?

Yes, but you must be able to justify it in some way. For example, it could be needed to comply with legislation, such as banning fashion shoes in a warehouse for health and safety reasons, or jewellery in a kitchen to comply with food hygiene requirements. Equally, a dress code can be introduced as a means of projecting a professional business image, such as prohibiting staff from wearing informal clothing, e.g. vest tops and flip-flops, or to exert some other control over employee appearance when they are in public-facing roles, such as insisting that tattoos and body piercings are covered up whilst at work. Tip. Ensure that any dress and appearance policy is applied fairly and to all employees in an even-handed manner. In addition, take care not to insist on dress codes that run counter to the cultural or religious requirements of certain ethnic or religious groups or which stereotype men and women (unless it's a "proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”", e.g. health and safety reasons). This will help to avoid discrimination claims.