How to avoid discriminatory workwear policies

Drawing up workwear policies can be tricky, as a person’s attire has the potential to significantly alter their confidence, productivity, and overall sense of wellbeing. So, how can you keep employees happy while ensuring that your workforce looks the part? Here are few tips for avoiding discriminatory practices.

1. Get to know the Equality Act

High Heels

The Equality Act 2010 offers clear guides about how to avoid discrimination against certain groups. Protected characteristics include those related to disability, age, gender reassignment, maternity, pregnancy, sexual orientation, religion, and marital status.

Technically, there is no strict law about setting dress codes in the workplace. It is relatively common for men and women to be assigned different dress codes, with some workplaces asking men to wear ties, for example. While you may wish to include this kind of rule, it is worth considering whether it is strictly necessary or reflects your brand image. Historically, some companies’ dress codes have resulted in sex discrimination cases, causing reputational issues and potential emotional distress.

2. Make adjustments for individuals with special requirements

Maternity PPE

Some employees may require special workwear adjustments to account for physical disability or other limiting conditions, maybe even simply thinking about maternity requirements. Remember – not all disabilities are visible, and some employees may require reasonable adjustments to ensure they feel comfortable and confident at work. When supplying workwear we use suppliers that consider diversity in the workplace and can help you show you have considered aspects of workwear that make employees feel safe, comfortable and empowered.

3. Think carefully about the motivations behind your dress code policies

Don’t simply add dress code policies for the sake of it. Take into account issues such as your brand image and health and safety before setting rules in stone. Define the purpose of your uniform policy, it will add greater clarity to how best to achieve it and help you explain it staff. For more details look at our guidance on this.

4. Consider assigning business-bought uniforms

Purchasing and assigning a uniform for your workforce is one of the easiest ways to circumvent issues related to discrimination. As well as promoting a sense of equality between employees, uniforms can engender feelings of togetherness and promote productivity. In the hospitality industry, for example, research has shown that wearing a uniform can positively influence a worker’s job satisfaction.

5. Ask for employee input

Tuffnells brand identity

Remember to ask your employees for their opinions about their workwear options via an annual survey or poll. This will ensure they feel respected and listened to. When HeathBrook work with you we include employee on job audits and feedback surveys as part of our service. We also run workshops and can work you to engage employees through rollout strategies.