New Government guidance is now available for employers, on how to address the issue of dress codes in the workplace. The guidance is a small gem of useful information (8 pages), outlining the key issues to take into account when implementing a dress  code:

  • Equality Act 2010
  • Sex discrimination
  • Health and safety
  • Reasonable adjustments for disabled employees
  • Transgender staff
  • Dress codes and 
  • Religious symbols

The guide also contains a number of best practice illustrations. One noteworthy point is that a dress policy requiring female employees to wear high heel shoes is likely to be unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 and may have health and safety implications. In view of this we suggest that employers who require their staff to wear this type of footwear, should consider revising this practice.

Some other key points highlighted by the guidance are:

  • Employers should ensure they have a legitimate business reason for requiring staff to comply with a dress code.
  • On the basis that an employer does have a legitimate reason for a dress code, the code can then form part of an employer’s terms and conditions of employment.
  • Men and women do not have to wear identical clothing but any required standards of dress should be equivalent.  
  • When formulating dress codes it’s good practice to avoid gender specific requirements, (e.g. wearing high heels/makeup).
  • Employers should seek agreement from employees and trade unions before introducing or changing dress codes.

If you have a dress code policy, you may find it helpful to read the new guidance and check that your policy falls within the scope of the best practices outlined.

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