A new survey by XpertHR has found more than 90% of employers operate some form of dress code or appearance policy.

Dress codes can vary widely according to job role. “Smart” dress codes most commonly cover customer-facing employees and senior managers, while professionals and office staff are most likely to be required to wear “smart-casual” clothes.

  • Four-fifths (82.4%) of employers hope that setting standards for dress and appearance will boost or safeguard the organisation’s external image.
  • Only one third (30%) make their dress or appearance code part of the employee’s contract.
  • Three-fifths (61.3%) say that HR is responsible for setting guidelines on dress and appearance.

More than four-fifths (82.4%) of employers take action to ensure that their organisation’s dress/appearance code does not conflict with legislation outlawing discrimination against employees on the grounds of any protected characteristics.

Three-fifths (61.3%) say that their dress/appearance policy is flexible and makes it clear that it can be adapted to meet particular requirements.

There are inevitably complaints

One employer in eight (12.8%) has received a complaint about their dress code. Among those providing details, the most common complaints come from employees who:

  • are not allowed to wear shorts, particularly in hot weather;
  • want to wear less formal footwear (such as flip-flops, sandals and trainers); and
  • perceive inconsistency in dress codes across various staff groups and different managers.

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