Uniform policies and dress codes are an important element in a workplace. Studies show us that effective uniform policies can help to boost productivity, foster a sense of unity and increase the overall success of a business. But, they can also be a sensitive area for HR. Employees are sometimes unwilling to comply with a dress code and uniform policy can easily be made discriminatory or impractical. Today, we give you our top four tips for keeping a uniform policy fair.

 Equality

 Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when designing a dress code is equality. A fair uniform policy is more likely to be taken well by staff. There are Fair Work laws which apply to dress codes. These laws cover things like:

  • Ensuring a uniform does not discriminate against religious groups - employers cannot stop someone from wearing religious apparel without significant cause, such as a safety concern.
  • Making sure dress codes do not disadvantage one particular gender. Uniforms can be different for males and females, but they have to be of equal standard and not favour either gender. 
  • Uniform policies must be careful in the language they use. Regulations cannot sexually discriminate or make anyone feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in the workplace.

 Comfort

Workplace health and safety complaints are common, don't let your uniform be the cause of any. Making sure a dress code is comfortable and safe should be an HR priority. Correctly fitting uniforms which are appropriate for the weather and take into account an employees’ personal preferences are the most likely to be worn willingly by all. A fair uniform policy understands that the clothes people wear to work should be comfortable.

 Appropriate to the Profession

A dress code must cater for the particular workplace it applies to. A tradesperson can’t wear the same uniform as a barista and a nurse shouldn’t wear the same shoes as a solicitor. Safety precautions and industry standards need to be adhered to. Plus, by making sure a uniform is specific to a profession, employees can claim the cost of it as tax deductible.

Clear

Uniform policies should be made clear to everyone in the workplace. They need to be worded clearly. Avoiding ambiguous language like ‘casual’ is the best way to make sure a dress code is fair. This policy should be accessible to all, translated into different languages if necessary and each employee should be given a copy. The only way to enforce a uniform policy is to first make it known.

The burden of enforcing and regulating work wear often falls on the shoulders of the HR department. Make your job easier by ensuring the uniform policy is fair to all. This means it should be equal, comfortable, fit for purpose and clear.

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