Dress Code: It’s More Than Just What You Wear

When I think of a company dress code policy, a blaring meme pops into my head – “My boss told me to ‘dress for the job you WANT, not for the job you HAVE.’ Now, I’m sitting in a disciplinary meeting wearing my Batman costume.” Hopefully, this specific situation has not occurred within your workplace, but in most organizations dress code compliance is a consistent trend and hot topic, particularly as the weather changes.

The purpose of a dress code policy is to communicate to employees the expectations of the organization. Dress code policies help employers satisfy the goals of comfort, professionalism, safety, brand and the organization’s image. Employees are often seen as the “face” of the organization and employers recognize the importance of impressions made on clients and customers.

While a dress code policy is recommended, companies must still keep in mind risky policy language which may ultimately violate an employee’s rights. Some of those risks include:

  • Gender Disparities – Policies which differ between men and women may be challenged because the requirements for one sex may be based on stereotypes which may be more restrictive, leading to potential discrimination complaints.
  • Gender Identity – Employers may need to consider accommodations to the dress code policy for employees “in transition” or choosing to express themselves as the opposite gender.
  • Religious Expression – Exceptions to the dress code in regards to sincere religious beliefs may need to be incorporated into the policy for potential religious accommodations.

Equipped with potentially sensitive information, as explained above, an employer developing a dress code policy needs to determine the image, culture and values of the company prior to implementing its policy. Employers may look to industry standards to develop this expectation or draw from creativity to separate themselves from the standard.

The most important aspect of implementing a dress code is consistent enforcement. Leaders must establish and manage policies in partnership with their peers. Additionally, management must identify and mitigate legal issues and work with employees to request accommodations when appropriate.

Now, as warmer weather presents itself and employees may be tempted to dress too casually or wear inappropriate attire in violation of, at least, proper decorum, it is a perfect time for employers to review their dress code policy – or update them – before the need for that disciplinary meeting arises.

Creative Business Solutions specializes in ensuring each of our valued clients is in compliance with all laws and regulations applicable to their respective businesses, including dress code policies as well as all other policies. Please call us today and we will be pleased to assist you with any HR compliance issue you may be experiencing.

Source: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/employeedressandappearance.aspx

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Sandy Warren

VP Operations

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