Workplace Dress Code: Knowing Your Limits…
– What does the law say?
– Freedom of dress: what obligations?
– Limits to the freedom to dress
– Non-compliance with the rules: risk of dismissal…
Your outfit can be a way of reflecting your personality in the workplace. And your employer may not have hired you to appreciate your character.
That’s precisely why specific dress codes are spontaneously created in every field of activity. But what can your employer impose on you in this regard?
What does the law say?
The choice to dress as one wishes is a matter of individual freedom for the employee. The United States labor law protects employees while specifying that the law provides restrictions to this freedom that may be justified by the nature of the task to be performed and proportionate to the goal sought.
Indeed, this freedom is not absolute. Employers may require employees to wear unique clothing to ensure their safety or serve the company’s interests and restrict their freedom of dress to the extent that this can be justified by decency or by reasons relating to the company’s image.
Please note that the employee’s freedom to choose their clothing is more important when they are not in direct contact with people outside the company.
Freedom to dress: what obligations?
Obligations established by law
Some jobs require specific protection related to hygiene or safety (wearing a helmet, a gown, a mask, etc.), which are made compulsory by law. In these cases, no exemption is possible, and the employer must ensure the law is observed.
Certain obligations regarding clothing may appear in:
– the employment contract,
– the internal regulations,
– a note from the management,
– a company code or other.
This is often the case:
– in the restaurant industry, where some chains require their employees to wear uniforms;
– in the luxury sector, where the dress must be impeccable;
– or for sales representatives who must often wear a suit and tie.
Some collective agreements include clauses on wearing specific clothing, which takes precedence over what is specified in the employment contract.
However, these obligations must be duly justified.
The labor law is categorical about freedom of dress: no action by the employer may restrict the rights of employees in a way that is not justified by the nature of the task to be performed or proportionate to the goal sought.
Limits to the freedom to dress
Essential criterion: contact with customers
Contact with customers is one of the leading causes of limitation of this freedom. Indeed, if the person to whom a particular dress is imposed is permanently in contact with customers, his employer may require him to dress appropriately. This is, for example, the case of Bermuda shorts which are not allowed at work, or tracksuits.
Respect for decency
Even though you are not in contact with customers, or even if your employer does not specify any dress code, you must wear decent clothes when you work.
A plunging neckline or jeans that are too low can be a cause for concern in the workplace. The notion of decency is a matter of social codes and is therefore relative: it may differ from one company to another.
Non-respect of the rules: risk of dismissal…
Coming to work once and not respecting the imposed codes will not constitute a reason for dismissal.
But if you persist in not respecting the dress code for one of the reasons mentioned above, this may lead to dismissal…
Hope you have liked this post. Remember to share your experience in the comment section below.