Consensus HR

Your outsourced HR department.

Two-thirds of workers enjoy following a dress code

Published in Employment Law, General, Handbook

Matthew from Consensus HR states ” When we draft Contracts of Employment & Employee handbooks for clients one of the key areas we discuss is their dress code within the workplace and what they wish it to be and ranges continuously due to the nature of the business & its culture.  Some prefer the set uniform for everyone where others prefer to allow the individuals to wear what they prefer as long as it is professional and business like.  You also have those companies that prefer to not have any dress code and allow their team to where what they want as it fits in with the culture / product offered to the customer.  We work with businesses to identify the correct one for them taking into account their culture & product and employees thoughts / ideas and ensure these are detailed adequately in the company Policies & Procedures.”

Dress Code Research:

Emily Burt of People Management (8th August 2017) states that Two-thirds (66 per cent) of UK workers enjoy following a dress code, rising to 67 per cent among 18 to 24-year olds and 69 per cent among 55 to 64-year-olds, new research has found.

Of those surveyed by CV-Library who favoured a smarter dress code, 57 per cent said they did so to look more professional to customers, 26 per cent said it made them feel professional and 9 per cent felt it made everyone equal.

By contrast, of those who felt employers should ditch their dress codes, 28 per cent said it made people feel uncomfortable, 24 per cent complained that they didn’t allow people to show off their personality and 18 per cent pointed out that styles were always changing anyway.

“There continues to be a lot of debate around dress codes in the workplace and whether it’s still a necessity to dress smart,” said Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library. “Dress codes mean different things to different people: some people prefer to dress smart, while others see it as a perk to be able to wear more casual clothes.”

The findings follow a report from personalised clothing retailer Banana Moon, which found that more than a third of workers would prefer to wear a compulsory uniform than navigate a casual dress code. The study also revealed that nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of men and more than a fifth (21 per cent) of women had been told off for wearing the wrong attire to work.

Earlier this year, the government rejected calls to ban dress codes that required women to wear high heels at work, despite a petition signed by more than 150,000 people calling for a ban on outdated and sexist dress codes.

“The recent controversy over high heels illustrates how easy it can be to run into gendered issues, and how restrictions and prohibitions around dress in the workplace can lead to challenges and incredibly divisive litigation,” Alan Delaney, director of employment, pensions and immigration at Maclay Murray & Spens, told People Management. “I suspect issues around high heels and discriminatory dress codes in the workplace were often not pursued because of the fees involved in bringing a discrimination claim. Following the Supreme Court’s decision to scrap tribunal fees, employees will be able to start bringing their claims to tribunal without any cost. I think we will see more cases coming forward in the future, and high heels could well be at the forefront of these.”

But some companies are loosening up on tighter dress code policies. Goldman Sachs was recently praised for relaxing its historically strict City dress code, which banned clothing items such as short trousers for men. In a memo to staff, the banking titan said it would be embracing a “year-round casual dress code”, though requested that employees consider their smartness when in client-facing meetings.

“Dress codes can be useful for letting people know where they stand, and alleviating concerns about getting dressed in the morning in something that’s ‘borderline’, then getting their knuckles rapped in the office – but listening to your workforce is key,” Delaney said. “If as many as two-thirds of your employees want dress codes, while others would prefer to be more casual, you should pay attention to their views. Failure to do so can end up disengaging a lot of your workforce.”