What kind of dress code should you have? The answer to that question may
come down to the kind of company culture you have or want to have.
There’s no universally-applicable dress code for successful businesses.
And what works fabulously in one office might prove distracting in the
next. Some employers avoid restrictive dress codes because they can
negatively affect morale and may drive away impressive job candidates.
Other employers prefer a strict dress code to maintain a certain company
Whatever your situation, we recommend that you have a written policy
that explains your expectations. These expectations may be specific or
general, depending on your needs. If you anticipate questions from
employees about what they can wear (e.g., jeans, shorts, or sandals), it
may be worth mentioning them in your policy.
Tattoos and Piercings
If you’re concerned about visible tattoos or body piercings conflicting
with your organization’s image, you may prohibit them entirely or you
may simply prohibit those that are offensive, distracting,
inappropriate, or over a certain size. Your policy could also be
something general like “Tattoos and piercings must be appropriate and in
keeping with a professional image.” What qualifies as appropriate should
be determined by the top brass.
However, your policy and practice must allow for religious
accommodations. Some religions do not permit the covering of tattoos or
other religious items, and you should be prepared to make exceptions.
Facial Hair and Man Buns
It is legal to have an across-the-board policy that facial hair is not
permitted or must be well-trimmed. However, some disabilities preclude
people from being able to shave regularly, and there are also some
religious traditions with closely held beliefs regarding facial hair. If
an employee indicates an objection to your policy based on a verifiable
disability or religious belief, you will almost certainly need to make
an exception. While an accommodation can, in theory, be refused if it
creates an undue burden, that standard is very high and hard to meet.
For companies with dress codes, those undue burdens are usually related
to legitimate safety, health, or security concerns.
The same holds true for hair length. While your dress code may specify
that hair length on men may not pass a certain length, we strongly
recommend you consider a policy that simply requires hair to be pulled
back and neatly groomed. Our best practice recommendation is to make
dress codes gender neutral to avoid employees feeling that they are
being treated disparately.
It’s in your best interest to create a written dress code policy that
fits with your company culture and image, but be sure to make exceptions
or accommodations if they’re appropriate.
Looking to make updates to your employee handbook but aren’t sure where
to begin? Paycor’s HR Support
provides custom employee handbook templates and sample policies to help
set the proper expectations with your employees. Plus, one year of
Support Center is cheaper than just one hour of a typical attorney’s
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