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Can your boss take control of your wardrobe?

After a series of cases that saw employees being dismissed because of their appearance, Coodes Partner and Head of Employment and HR, Jeremy Harvey, looks at just how much say a business has on the way staff look.

Cases of people being dismissed from the workplace because they have
tattoos, piercings and dyed hair are on the rise with a few notable high
profile examples hitting the headlines. One involved a Police Officer being dismissed as a result of
dying her hair and another saw British Airways stopping staff from wearing any
visible jewellery. The majority of businesses want to portray a particular
image and will expect employees to present themselves in a certain way,
particularly if they are in public-facing roles. A major airline, for example,
specifies when recruiting staff that members of its cabin crew should have no visible tattoos or body piercings “that can’t be
covered discreetly”. Styles of dress can also the subject of disagreement. 


So, what do you do if a member of your staff turns up to work with a new
tattoo or an outlandish hairstyle. Although it may not be to your own taste,
you may still have to prove why it is unacceptable in your workplace, for
example, if the member of staff has a public-facing role and it reflects badly
on the business, or it may be that it could be seen as offensive to others,
particularly customers. 


The best resolution is always to discuss the issue with the employee and
come to an agreement on how to move forward, referring to the business’ policy
and dress code on appearance. This could involve wearing long-sleeved tops to
cover a tattoo, for example.


The most important thing is for all employers to have a robust policy on
dress and appearance and apply it consistently. If you don’t, it could be more
difficult to come to an agreement and, if things get more serious, you won’t be
able to take disciplinary action.

For more information on this or any Employment
enquiries contact Jeremy Harvey, Head of Employment and HR at Coodes Liskeard
office on 01579 325794 or

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