Magazine article Management Today

Crash Course in ... What to Wear at Work

Magazine article Management Today

Crash Course in ... What to Wear at Work

Article excerpt

Oh dear, the weather's warming up and we've got the usual problem: the women are turning up at the office in micro-skirts while the men are sporting Bermudas. Suddenly, the organisation's entire dress sense has gone to pot, and customers and suppliers must feel that they've stumbled on a beer garden. How do you keep some sartorial order?

Draw up a dress code. 'As an employer, you are allowed to impose rules and requirements on the style or standard of dress your employees wear, but it must be subject to a test of reasonableness,' says Tony Hyams-Parish of legal firm Rawlison Butler. 'If people are working in a factory, it's reasonable to ask them to have their hair in a safety hat.' If you put the dress code in your employment contract, you are in a stronger legal position against anyone breaching it.

Don't be proscriptive. According to a former HR director, people resent nothing more than being told what they cannot wear, so if you start stipulating skirt-lengths, you're inviting someone to find a way round the rules. 'Most employers just ask employees to dress 'appropriately',' says Sally Humpage of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. 'You should trust your people to do the right thing.'

Be even-handed. 'Be mindful not to discriminate on grounds of gender or race,' says Hyams-Parish. That doesn't mean if men have to wear ties, then women must do too. It does mean that they should be subject to equivalent requirements in terms of smartness. …

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