Recently business attire has change greatly. Blazers, shirts and ties used to be the norm, but it is becoming more and more common, especially in smaller companies, for people to be a lot more casual, no ties, maybe even jeans. Companies are now beginning to move away from formal dress codes and created a more relaxed environment and a more creative space. Employers have been moving away from stricter rules as can cause employees to resent management and this could have an effect on happiness and morale among employees.
There are no actual laws about workplace dress codes, employers can only give ‘guidelines’ which do not discriminate between gender, race, religion, ability etc. However, this does not mean that the dress code must be the same for both genders, simply they both must be reasonable and equivalent for their business environment, for example women cannot be asked to wear a suit, with men being allowed to wear tracksuits.
Applying a dress code can be difficult for employers, as if it is not instated correctly and fairly they can run the risk of being accused of discrimination. It is a good idea to find out the opinions and ideas of those who will be following the rules – your employees. This can give you a good idea of what people would like to wear and feel comfortable in, for example women may not feel comfortable having to hear a heeled shoe every day. Recently, a woman was sent home from work after refusing to wear heels between 2-4 inches. You must also consider the cost of a particular dress code; this cannot be too expensive as this is unreasonable, as well as giving a reasonable amount of time for employees to start adhering to the dress code. When creating a dress code, think about why you are asking people to dress a certain way, e.g. safety or to create a good image, but it is also important to consider the person themselves. A study has shown that wearing certain clothes can increase your attention. This shows it is important to not only consider how the employee looks to others, but also how they feel themselves. Dress codes may be necessary to make employees easily identifiable or communicate a desired image or for health and safety.
Dress codes can depend on a number of things. Some professions have the expectation for a certain type of attire, for example lawyers are expected to wear suits. It also depends of if your role is client facing or not, if you are going for an important meeting with a client, it is important to be dressed more formally, whereas if you do not have to meet anyone from outside the company, more casual work ware may be a better idea. However, some employers and employees believe that dressing too casually can interfere with career progression and make the atmosphere of the office too relaxed.
Overall, it is important to consider a lot of factors carefully when considering implementing a dress code including environment, but most importantly your employees!