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Advice on Workplace Dress Codes

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has guidance for employers who wish to impose dress standards in the workplace. This emphasises that employers should have sound business reasons for applying a particular dress code, such as requiring workers to wear a uniform to promote a corporate image.

The key points to bear in mind are:

  • Dress codes must apply to both men and women equally, although they may have different requirements. For example, the policy may require women to wear 'business dress' whilst men 'must wear a tie';
  • Reasonable adjustments must be made for disabled people when dress codes are in place;
  • Employers must avoid unlawful discrimination in any dress code policy, such as banning the wearing of articles of clothing that manifest a worker's religious faith where this cannot be justified; and
  • There may be health and safety reasons for having certain standards in place, for example insisting that those who work with food keep their hair tied back or covered, or banning the wearing of loose clothing by those who operate machinery.
  • Acas recommends consulting with employees over the terms of the policy before its introduction. Once agreed, the policy should be written down and communicated to all staff members.