Tag Archives: dress code policy

5 Common Dress Code Violations and How to Address Them

Many companies implement some type of dress code policy to ensure that staff look professional and acceptable. But what happens when employees violate your dress code and show up wearing clothing that’s unacceptable? Let’s take a look at five common dress code violations and discuss how to effectively address them.


1) Dressing Overly Casual

While you may have Casual Fridays or allow employees to dress “business casual,” this isn’t an invitation to take it to extremes and go overboard. Unfortunately, the definition of casual can be a subjective term, and it’s common for some employees to under dress to the point that it’s unprofessional. For instance, you probably don’t want your staff showing up wearing a Hawaiian shirt and flip flops when delivering an important presentation.


2) Being Too Revealing

When temperatures rise, it’s a natural human inclination to wear lighter clothing and expose some skin. As a result, wearing too little clothing can be a considerable problem in late spring and summer months when traditional attire like a suit can be uncomfortable. While you may want to accommodate the comfort needs of your employees by allowing something like button-up short sleeved shirts, it’s an issue if they’re coming in with tank tops.


3) Wearing Jeans

Although jeans are perfectly acceptable in some professions, they’re simply a no-no in many high-profile positions. Unfortunately, some employees will try to push the boundaries and wear jeans even if slacks or dress pants are company policy.


4) Wearing Wrinkled Clothing

Because of the fast-paced world we live in, time can be a precious commodity, and not everyone has the time to ensure that their clothing is clean, pressed and wrinkle-free. As a result, you may encounter employees whose attire looks sloppy and unprofessional due to wrinkles.


5) Exposing Tattoos

With tattoos becoming more and more mainstream in today’s culture, it’s common to see some of the brightest minds and top talent wearing them. Consequently, it puts many employers in a position where they need to establish policies to ensure that tattoos are covered. Hearkening back to the issue of being too revealing, employees may be tempted to wear clothing that exposes tattoos during warmer weather.


How to Address the Problem

If you’re finding consistent problems with dress code violations, you’ll want to tweak your dress code policy so that it’s as specific as possible and all details are covered. Make sure that it’s clear what’s acceptable and what isn’t to eliminate any confusion among your staff. It’s also smart to include examples to add clarity.

When an employee directly violates your dress code, you should discuss the matter in a private location where you can speak one-on-one to avoid embarrassment on their end. Start by asking if there was a specific reason why they violated the dress code, and check to make sure that it’s not due to something like their religious affiliation or a disability.

Assuming that it’s not, you’ll want to explain the exact aspect of your dress code that they’re violating and tell them why it’s unacceptable. If it’s something relatively minor, it’s usually easiest to allow them to remain at work for the day and adjust their attire accordingly going forth. However, if it’s more major, you may want to send them home for the day. Also, explain that continued violations will result in disciplinary actions or potentially termination to prevent future issues.

By addressing dress code violations head on, you can ensure that your employees dress appropriately. At the same time, you can minimize clothing related issues and maintain a more professional workplace environment.


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How to Create a Dress Code Policy For Your Company

Summer is a time where much of the country sees temperatures reach the 90s and even triple digits. As a result, employees will naturally want to wear less and dress light for the added comfort. The problem is that this can create dress code issues if employees push it too far and wear flip-flops, tank tops, etc. Here’s how to create a dress code policy for your company that keeps staff members’ clothing in check and ensures that everyone looks professional.


Keep Anti-Discrimination Laws in Mind

Before you set anything in stone, you need to be sure that your policy isn’t in conflict with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, “which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, sex or ethnic origin.” Although as an employer you have the right to establish a dress code policy, it has to meet the following criteria:

  • It has to treat all employees the same
  • It can’t discriminate against a particular group
  • It has to provide special accommodations to employees with certain religious beliefs

When it comes to gender, you’re allowed to create different policies for men and women as long as there’s no purposeful discrimination against either gender. Keeping anti-discrimination laws in mind should prevent you from getting into any hot water and potentially getting sued later on.


Go Over the Formalities

To begin, you’ll typically want to start your policy with an objective of why you’re implementing a dress code, any specific requirements there may be, how management will handle dress code violations, etc. It’s also good to state that you’ll take an individual’s specific needs into consideration (e.g. a person wears certain attire because of religious beliefs). Break these topics down section by section so that they flow in a logical, sequential manner.


Cover Formal Attire

Now, you’ll want to get down to the nuts and bolts of your dress code policy. The most important area to cover is formal attire, which is what employees will be required to wear the vast majority of the time. For instance, you might say that male employees must wear a tie, blazer or sports coat and slacks. In terms of what’s inappropriate, you might say t-shirts, exercise clothing, jeans, shorts and sweatpants.

When it comes to female employees, they might be required to wear pants, a dress that extends below the knee, a skirt suit, etc. For tops, they might be limited to a blouse, sweater or turtleneck.
In terms of footwear, males might be required to wear dress shoes, boat shoes or loafers while flip-flops, sandals and athletic shoes are not allowed. For women, low-heel shoes and sling backs might be appropriate, while high-heels and flip-flops are not.


Cover Casual Attire

If you ever have casual workdays, then you’ll want to add this to your policy as well. In this case, maybe it’s okay to wear t-shirts, jeans and flip-flops so employees can be more comfortable, but it’s not okay to wear tank tops, sweatpants or see through shirts. You should also point out that the goal of casual workdays is to create a comfortable environment, but employees are expected to use good judgment.

For further guidance, you can check out this example of a dress code policy from the Society for Human Resource Management for more ideas.

By thinking ahead and establishing a suitable policy, you can stop a lot of issues from ever arising in the first place. This way your employees will understand what’s expected of them, and there shouldn’t be any confusion in terms of what can and can’t be worn.