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04 January 2023 | HR & Employment

UK Company Dress Code Policy

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This Insight is #5 in our Employment Handbook series, keep an eye out for more.

Although a dress code policy is not required by law for UK companies, it’s good practice to create policies that may save a dispute from arising, or just simply to have everyone on the same page, with the same expectations.

Why should UK companies have a dress code?

It’s wise for any UK business to provide an easily accessible dress code policy to regulate how their employees should dress while at work. 

Some employers, particularly those with customer-facing employees, need to ensure their employees represent their brand properly because they are the image of the business.  In this case, a company dress code policy is essential.

Some businesses however, will be less concerned with how their employees look because what they wear does not impact the brand image. 

What a dress code policy should include, and pitfalls to watch out for

How much detail a business includes in their dress code will usually depend on the nature of the business, such as whether there are any particular hazards at work and whether their employees are customer-facing. 

Dress code policies don’t come without their difficulties though. 

This is because many cultures and religions have their own rules and traditions, and dress codes can interfere with these or even run contrary to them. 

So, if you’re preparing a dress code, you should think about what you need, why its needed and whether it’s likely to impinge on any religious or cultural dress rights. 

You’ll need to be sensitive to employees’ beliefs and rights and make sure that the company does not discriminate against employees with certain religions or cultures.

Do we have to pay employees if they can’t get to work?

One of the key issues for employees whenever there are travel disruptions, is whether they’ll get paid if they don’t attend work.  Whether an employer should pay an employee who can’t get to work depends on a number of factors such as:

  • Whether there’s a contractual right to be paid
  • How the employer has acted previously
  • How bad the disruption is
  • How the employer wants to manage its employee relations.

Docking pay may breed resentment among employees as well as opening-up the risk of bad publicity for being a ‘scrooge’.  On the other hand, if an employer pays employees who don’t attend work, then those who do get to work may begrudge their absent colleagues and feel hard done by. 

There isn’t any right answer to this tricky question, but an employer should think about what they’re going to do before the situation occurs, so they can prepare for any fall out.  There are other options open to employers such as allowing home working, allowing employees to make up time or letting them take paid holiday instead.

Adverse Weather and Travel Disruption Policy

You’ll need to make your own plan and set it out in an Adverse Weather and Travel Disruption Policy. 

As a matter of law, employers must provide employees with employment contracts that cover the key terms of their employment relationship. However, it is also good practice to have non-contractual policies and procedures in place, such as a employee handbook. This can sit alongside contracts of employment to set out how employees are expected to act and can help prevent or resolve disputes between employees and employers.

Your responsibility as an Employer

As a matter of law employers must give employees employment contracts which cover the key terms of the employment relationship, but the contract won’t cover all of the policies, procedures and expectations for the relationship between a business and the people within it. A employee handbook can include information for all team members, including employees, workers, apprentices and agency staff. Not only can a employee handbook bring together useful guidance for everyone on the culture, values and expectations the business as but it will often be a resource that can save a dispute from arising or provide the best framework for resolving a dispute. The non-contractual policies and procedures that can be included in a employee handbook will sit alongside contracts of employment to set out how employees are expected to act and how the employer will deal with certain situations.

Putting all the policies and procedures together in one place that is accessible to everyone working in a business is good practice and can provide an invaluable framework for reference on all of the HR issues to cover. If any grievance or dispute arises, having a policy or procedure to refer to and follow can help prevent the situation escalating. If the worst occurs and a claim comes before a tribunal, being able to show the policies and procedures that were followed can make a huge difference to the outcome.

Every office should have a Company Dress Code Policy included in their handbook so that staff know what is acceptable and what isn’t before they come into work. For more information of how to implement a Company Dress Code Policy, get in touch with our Employment Law team today on 0330 912 8338.

This article and the policy are provided for general information purposes only and you should take specialist advice in relation to specific circumstances. Whilst we endeavour to ensure that what we say is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy, and Atkins Dellow LLP does not accept any liability for error or omission.

© Atkins Dellow LLP 2022

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Please note this article is provided for general information purposes only to clients and friends of Atkins Dellow LLP. It is not intended to impart legal advice on any matter. Specialist advice should be taken in relation to specific circumstances. Whilst we endeavour to ensure that the information in this article is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy, and Atkins Dellow LLP does not accept any liability for error or omission.

© Atkins Dellow LLP 2022

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