The Government Equalities Offices published new guidance on Dress Codes and Sex Discrimination earlier this month.
The aim of the new guidance is to show an employer that they can legitimately introduce a dress code as a part of their terms and conditions of employment, however, there are some considerations:
- An employer must understand that the dress policies for men and women do not have to be the same although, there must be similar or alternative rules put into practice for both male and female staff members.
- A dress code cannot be used as a form of harassment by an employer, other staff members or customers.
- All gender specific requirements should be avoided. A female employee, for example, must not be required to wear high heels.
- The guidance also states that it may be unlawful to force a female employee to wear make-up, skirts, manicured nails, specific hairstyles or to wear different types of hosiery as this is considered as treating women ‘less favourably’ than men.
- When proposing any changes to the dress code in your workplace, you should consider consulting with your employees or trade unions to ensure that the employer and its employees are both in acceptance of the code.