Can I enforce a dress code in the workplace?

Q

Can I enforce a dress code in the workplace?

A

Problems with dress codes are always making the headlines — for example, forcing women to wear high heels at work; banning articles of religious expression; or problems over tattoos and men wearing long hair. Employers should tread carefully and sensitively in this area of employment law.

There are good reasons why you may wish to introduce a dress code — not only to improve your corporate image but also for health and safety reasons. Nevertheless, you must be careful that the code does not discriminate against any of the “protected characteristics” of the Equality Act 2010 — age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, religion or belief, race, sex, sexual orientation or pregnancy and maternity. The code must apply equally to men and women, even though they may have different requirements. You must also make reasonable adjustments for disabled people.

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