New Guidance on Workplace Dress Codes Set to be Unveiled

dress code IRIS | New Guidance on Workplace Dress Codes Set to be Unveiled
By Sam Thomas | 24th April 2017 | 15 min read

Following on from a petition setup after a receptionist was sent home from work due to wearing flat shoes, the Government is issuing new guidance.

For background on the matter, back in early 2016, London receptionist Nicola Thorp was sent home from work after she showed up for work wearing flat shoes, as opposed to high heels. A petition set up by Ms. Thorp calling for the Government to change the law was set up and garnered over 152,000 signatures. As a result, The Government Equalities Office, working alongside ACAS, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Health and Safety Executive, will publish workplace dress code guidance for employers this summer.

Maria Miller MP, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, said: “Equality legislation is not sufficient to achieve equality in practice. This petition, and the Committees’ inquiry, have reinforced the need for effective enforcement of legislation and for employers and employees to be aware of their obligations and rights.

“We welcome the commitments made by the Government to increasing awareness of those rights, and hope that the next Government will monitor how this changes women’s experiences of the workplace.”

Additionally, Trade Union Congress General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This is a welcome step towards getting rid of sexist dress codes in the workplace. But the new guidance won’t be enough if working people can’t afford to take sexist bosses to a tribunal.

“The Government should scrap employment tribunal fees so it no longer costs hundreds of pounds to access justice. This would mean workers can afford to put a stop to sexist dress codes in practice, as well as in legislation.”

What Is The Law On Dress Code?

As the law stands, employers can dismiss staff who fail to live up to “reasonable” dress code standards, as long as they’ve been given enough time to buy the right shoes and clothes.

They can set up different codes for men and women, as long as there’s an “equivalent level of smartness”. The Government have ultimately rejected the petition’s call for a new law, saying that “scope for redress already exists” in the Equality Act 2010, which makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate or harass a person because of, or for reasons related to, sex. However due to the petitions scope, they will issue guidance for employees and businesses which make the law clearer.

Are Your Company Guidelines Clear Enough?

The case brought up an interesting thought for businesses – are their guidelines, policies and procedures clear enough? Furthermore, are they even accessible by your employees?

It’s important to have key documentation such as your company handbook, policies and procedures and other documents available at all times. With IRIS HR, not only are these documents accessible, you can also use the comprehensive ‘read & accept’ functionality to help ensure your employees have read through each document and understand your company policies.

This means that your business or practice can be easily backed-up via an audit trail if anything ever goes wrong by showing that not only are the documents freely available and clear, but that your employees have taken the time to read through and understand what they mean.

Using this case as an example, you’d be able to show that your employees were aware of the dress code as it could be proven that they’ve taken the time to read the company handbook and policies.

Speak to us today to learn how IRIS can help your business manage policies and procedures in a clear and detailed way for your workforce. Simply click below to arrange a free, no-obligation software demo to see IRIS HR’s read & accept functionality in action.