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Dress Codes - Drafting a Policy with Style

Posted by Caitlin McCuaig

Jul 2nd, 2019

Dress Codes - Drafting a Policy with Style

For many offices, policies about workplace attire are seldom discussed beyond the onboarding period. It is generally understood that employees should arrive at work looking professional, neat and in apparel that is appropriate for the industry they work in. However, for some employers, their employees’ clothing may present an opportunity for branding or creating an environment of inclusivity among workers. For example, asking employees to dress in a specific color that represents the company’s brand for social or business events. Clothing in industrial workplaces is linked to a much different area of concern in the workplace, safety. In an industrial environment employee’s may be required to wear a wide range of personal protective equipment, some of which may include coveralls, gloves, protective eye ware or steel-toed boots. Whether your workplace is an office setting or an industrial environment, there are a few key points to keep in mind when establishing a dress code policy:

  • Not require any staff to wear sexualized, revealing or gender-stereotypical clothing.
  • Ensure that staff can choose from clothing options, including pants, clothing options that are similar in terms of style, comfort, practicality and coverage, regardless of sex or gender.
  • Offer uniform sizes that fit a wide range of body types.
  • Make all dress code options available by default, rather than only offering certain options by request.
  • Do not include grooming or appearance rules or expectations for women that are more onerous than those for men, or that are sexualized or based on stereotypical ideas of female attractiveness.
  • Allow for a range of hairstyles, and not require a specific hairstyle unless it is a legitimate requirement of the job (e.g. food preparation).
  • Specify that applicants or interviewees cannot be asked to identify what kind of uniform option they will choose to wear until they have been given an offer of employment.
  • Include processes for handling dress code-related accommodation requests and complaints.
  • Be available to discuss concerns related to workplace attire.
    Dress codes can be quite flexible and tailored to suit an employer’s preferences.

It is important to keep the above points in mind when drafting your dress code to avoid any chance of an employee feeling they have been targeted based on their clothing choices. Dress codes can also present an opportunity for some fun, for example workplaces that allow casual Fridays for employees. The most important points to remember is to create a dress code that is flexible, and accommodates both your workplace and employee’s needs.

References

http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/ohrc-policy-position-sexualized-and-gender-specific-dress-codes

Dress Codes - Drafting a Policy with Style

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