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Summer Dress at Work: Dress Codes and Enforcement

With company cultures becoming more laid-back, dress code policies have become more relaxed in many workplaces. Due to the shift in policies and perceptions of professionalism, some employees may have differing views regarding acceptable dress. Since summer clothing can be more casual and revealing than attire worn at other times of the year, there may be an uptick in dress code violations.

Dress codes are used to communicate to employees what the organization considers appropriate work attire. A dress code or appearance policy allows an employer to set expectations regarding the image it wants the company to convey. The more thorough the explanation of acceptable dress, the easier it will be for employees to follow and for employers to correct if violations occur. The employer’s dress code policy should be included in the employee handbook and provided to all new hires.

Enforcement of the dress code policy must be consistently applied. If an employer enforces the dress code with some employees and not others, it may be perceived as discrimination. Employers also may be required to relax the policy should an employee request an accommodation due to a medical condition or for a religious reason. Being consistent with the policy can help to avoid problems with employee relations and even potential lawsuits.

The best time to remind your employees of your dress code policy is before the vacations and warm-weather activities get into full swing and people’s fashion choices become less workplace-focused. Some examples of this can include: dressing overly casual, wearing clothes that are too revealing, wearing flip-flops or ripped jeans.

If an employee violates the dress code in spite of the company reminder or wears clothing that is inappropriate, meet with the employee to resolve the problem. During the meeting, it is important to address the specific dress code violations and explain why it is unacceptable. If the violation is minor, you could allow the employee to remain at work for the day and adjust their attire accordingly going forward. If it is major, you will want to send the employee home. Also, explain that continued violations will result in disciplinary action or possibly termination if the violations continue.

It’s important to prevent dress code violations in the workplace as quickly as possible. This way you can ensure that your employees dress appropriately while at the same time letting your employees know that you take this policy seriously.

For assistance with updating your handbook or enforcing your dress code policy, contact PMP.


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