As an employer, you have the right to impose guidelines on employee dress code at your place of business. Regardless of the season, your goal is to maintain a workplace environment that’s professional, comfortable and inclusive for every staff member.

Summer business attire, though typically more casual, should exhibit the same level of common sense applied during the rest of the year. Factors to keep in mind as you implement your summer dress code policy include good judgment, professional image and taste, and courtesy to customers, suppliers and coworkers.

Where to Start
Employee appearance should support your company’s image in the eyes and minds of your stakeholders. When you develop your summer dress code policy, be sure to write it down, make it definite and specific, and be very precise in the descriptive language used.

  • Keep health and safety in the forefront. The more complex the safety standards within your industry, the greater your need to focus on this area. For instance, manufacturing environments have more concerns than most offices. Review the specific terms of your policy with your legal team and safety leaders before signing off on them.
  • Review for sensitivity. Another good reason to review your policy with your attorney is to ensure that you correctly draft portions that may be prone to legal pitfalls; for instance, items that differentiate between men and women or impact religious dress.
  • Avoid red flags. These are protests on union rights, religious practice or unfair burdens on one sex or race that may result from the introduction of your policy. Be sure to send a copy to every employee so they know the rules leading into the summer months. You may want to take this a step further by having them sign a copy acknowledging that they have received and read it in full. If you have an employee handbook, include your policy in it.

Key Parameters
As you create your dress code policy, keep these points in mind:

  • State your business objective. Your intention is to present a professional and identifiable image to customers, suppliers and the public. (You may want to provide summer polo shirts or similar items imprinted with your company logo.) In addition to ensuring safety, your policy is designed to promote a positive working environment and limit distraction caused by inappropriate dress.
  • Define what’s appropriate. For instance, specify whether “casual” means dress slacks and collared shirts or jeans and tee shirts. If you don’t want employees to wear flip flops, shorts, sleeveless shirts or sundresses, specify this. If you don’t observe casual dress at all times, identify which days are designated for it. How about tattoos and body piercings? Do you require that they not be visible? Make your verbiage very detailed and precise.
  • Identify standards for employees who have direct customer contact or attend outside meetings. Often, employers require that these individuals dress more formally at these times.

Be consistent as you enforce your dress code policy. Hot weather and summer fashions can test even the most carefully-designed document, so be prepared to deal with this reality. It’s still work, not the beach or a pool party. Make HR contact information readily available in case employees have questions.

Contact the team at Alternative Staffing for additional guidance as you develop policies and strategies for effective workforce development.

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