The Law @ Work

Summer is Approaching – What are Your Employees Wearing to Work?

by Amelia J. Holstrom

ID-100202074As warmer weather arrives, so do tank tops, flip flops, shorts, and other summer attire.  Soon, you may find your employees begin to wear some of these items to work.  Workplace attire is a growing issue among employers.  How an employee dresses, and presents himself or herself, can have an impact on an employer’s business, employee safety, or even lead to human resource issues.  Thus, it can be beneficial to an employer to adopt a workplace dress code policy or at least understand the risks of excluding such a policy from the company handbook.

Benefits of a Workplace Dress Code Policy

A workplace dress code policy will help shape how customers and clients perceive your business.   Such a dress code ensures that your employees are dressed appropriately for your business and creates a positive impression of the people you have working for you.  This will instill customer confidence in your business.

Workplace dress code policies also help protect the safety of employees.  For some manufacturers it is particularly important that employees dress appropriately for the type of machinery they operate.  A dress code policy should be appropriately tailored to the business and include specific guidelines to improve employee safety.

And of course there are the Human Resources issues.  Summer is a time when some employees may choose to wear shorter, tighter, or more revealing clothing.  This could lead to complaints to HR about employees’ dress or a potential sexual harassment claim.  It is important to create guidelines for your employees so that they are aware of what attire is and isn’t acceptable in the workplace and so that you can appropriately and effectively address workplace attire issues if they arise.

A dress code can cover more than shoe type or skirt length; it can also address things that employers want employees to cover up.  For example, a workplace dress code may cover topics such as appropriate piercings, display of tattoos, and hair color, length, and style.

Clear workplace dress codes encourage employees to make wiser choices about their work attire, but also guide managers when making important decisions about a particular employee’s dress.  As with every company policy, it is important that the policy is enforced fairly and consistently.  For instance, if your workplace dress code states that all tattoos must be completely covered, managers must enforce that policy with every employee during the entire duration of the year.

Summer is a time when employers tend to notice their employees’ choice of clothing more often.  But adopting an appropriate dress code for your workplace will provide guidance to your employees and managers beyond the summer months.

(Image courtesy of stockimages /

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