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Acas has issued new guidance on dress codes and appearance in the workplace. The guidance, whilst not providing employers with any specific solutions, offers issues for consideration with areas of focus including tattoos and body piercings, and religious dress.

Key points from the guidance:

  • The dress code should make it clear that, if employees are not compliant with the set standard, it may result in a disciplinary hearing.
  • The dress code must apply to both men and women equally,  although they may have different requirements such as, a “business dress” for women and “must wear a tie” for men.
  • If the employer has health and safety reasons for having a certain standard, this should be outlined in the dress code.
  • Reasonable adjustments are required for disabled people when the dress codes are in force.
  • Employers may ask workers to remove piercings or cover tattoos while at work, but must have sound business reasons for doing this which should be communicated in their policy. Interestingly, the Guidance does not offer any clarity on what, other than health and safety, constitutes a ‘sound business reason’ for banning certain forms of appearance or dress.
  • Employers are advised to treat scenarios whereby employees wish to wear articles of clothing that manifest their religious faith, with caution. Generally, members of staff should be allowed to wear such items which manifest their religious faith and if not, employers must justify the reasons for banning such items to ensure they are not indirectly discriminating against these employees (e.g. compliance with health and safety requirements). – click for guide