Posted By:

Trish Barnes on September 9, 2015

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.