Top Tips to Avoid Discriminatory Dress Codes

blog-publish-date

26 Jan 2017

blog-read-duration

In December 2015, Nicola Thorp was sent home from her place of work for refusing to wear shoes with a “2 to 4in heel”, a story amplified by the UK media, provoking much debate around the issue.

Recent Reports

Following the incident and a recent report, two parliamentary committees are urging the government to enforce the law properly to ban sexist rules at work. The two committees, for Petitions and for Women and Equalities, conducted a report entitled ‘High Heels and Workplace Dress Codes’. The joint report states: “We heard from hundreds of women who told us about the pain and long-term damage caused by wearing high heels for long periods in the workplace, as well as from women who had been required to dye their hair blonde, to wear revealing outfits and to constantly reapply make-up. “The Government has said that the existing law is clear, and that the dress code that prompted this petition is already unlawful. Nevertheless, discriminatory dress codes remain widespread.” Debates have been reignited today following the report’s findings, questioning just how effective existing law is in protecting discrimination at work, but Paul Holcroft, Head of Legal and Advisory at Croner says: “The law is already clear and employers should ensure that any policy they design places equivalent requirements on all employees regardless of the sex of the employee. “Once in place, there is a duty on an employee to comply with the code, but he or she may have a claim against the employer if the code places him or her at a disadvantage compared to other employees, on the grounds of his or her sex or race, or the individual’s religion or belief.”

Top Tips

Croner’s Top Tips for Introducing a Dress Code
  • Dress codes for men and women are equivalent and do not place an onerous burden on one sex rather than another.
  • If an employee or worker dresses in a manner particular to his or her religion or belief, this should be respected so long as it does not impact on the safety practices of the workplace or the effective performance of the work that he or she is required to undertake.
  • An employee’s dress or appearance should be respected unless it creates a hostile or offensive atmosphere for others.
  • There should be a legitimate reason or aim for the requirements of a dress code and the requirements should be proportionate to achieving that aim (i.e. objectively justified).
  • It is the responsibility of an employer to ensure that employees are actively made aware of any code on dress or appearance at work.
  • An individual who is undergoing gender reassignment should be allowed to dress appropriately for the relevant sex.

Free to Download Employer Resources

  • Sample Mental Health Policy

    FREE DOWNLOAD

    Sample Mental Health Policy

    Read more
  • Disciplinary Letter Template

    FREE DOWNLOAD

    Disciplinary Letter Template

    Read more
  • H&S Risks of Sleep in Shifts

    FREE DOWNLOAD

    H&S Risks of Sleep in Shifts

    Read more
  • What are Protected Characteristics?

    BLOG

    What are Protected Characteristics?

    There have been various legislations in the UK protecting individuals from discr...

    Read more
  • Cricket World Cup: Dealing with Sporting Events in the Workplace

    BLOG

    Cricket World Cup: Dealing with Sport...

    The 2019 Cricket World Cup will run from 30th May through to 14th July. Matches ...

    Read more
  • What are the benefits of benchmarking?

    BLOG

    What are the benefits of benchmarking...

    Salary benchmarking is no doubt a term you’ve come across, especially if you wor...

    Read more
  • Numark

    CASE STUDY

    Numark

    Numark serve as a virtual head office for independent pharmacies on the high str...

    Read more
  • Gilmour Quinn

    CASE STUDY

    Gilmour Quinn

    Gilmour Quinn Financial Planning Ltd is, as the name suggests, a small financial...

    Read more
  • Wardman Brown

    CASE STUDY

    Wardman Brown

    "I would say it has has a noticeable impact, in particular it has improved the H

    Read more

Ready to focus on what you do best?

Get your free consultation and speak to an expert today.