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Dress codes

Following British Airways settling a two-year dispute over the dress code enforced by them on new recruits, the issue of whether employers need a dress code and how they may enforce it has come to the fore.

The amount of detail that as an employer you include in a dress code, is likely to depend very much on the nature of the business and the extent to which there may be health and safety hazards in the work. Even those employers who require their staff to wear a uniform, may need to consider issues relating to the image that employees present to their customers.

The key issue for employers is to keep potential issues of discrimination in mind when formulating a dress code. Regard should be paid to any religious sensitivities as well as the issue of whether it is permissible to have different rules for men and women as per the BA case, where there was, for new recruits a policy that women should not wear trousers.

Some policies also contain reference to tattoos and body piercings. There should be a sound business reason for asking any employee to cover a tattoo or remove a piercing. Much will hinge on the industry you work in and the clientele you are seeking to interact with.

Quite apart from any religious reasons that may exist, consideration on a case by case basis is usually sensible.