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Topic: Personnel management

notice to discuss dress policy breach
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Notice to discuss dress policy breach

Notice to discuss dress policy breach

If an employee turns up to work dressed in clothing that breaches your dress and appearance policy, speak to them to explain the problem and send them home to get changed if necessary. After that, use our notice to arrange a meeting to discuss their breach, warning them that disciplinary action will be instituted if they continue to refuse to comply with your policy.

A policy breach

If you have a dress and appearance policy, it’s likely to confirm what’s deemed to be acceptable work clothing, particularly in relation to employees whose job duties bring them into contact with your clients or those in public-facing roles. This might set out what they can wear and/or it might set out a list of what they can’t. It could also set out your rules on other appearance issues, such as jewellery, tattoos, piercings and hair. So if an employee turns up in breach of your dress and appearance policy requirements, don’t just ignore the problem. The immediate solution is to speak to them informally to explain what the issue is and, if necessary, send them home to get changed - and your policy can provide that this is without pay. Thereafter, use our Notice to Discuss Dress Policy Breach to tackle the problem on a more permanent basis.

A disciplinary matter?

Our notice sets out how and when the employee breached the terms of your policy and then invites them to a meeting to discuss the matter. Whilst it warns them that a breach is normally a disciplinary offence and will be dealt with under your disciplinary procedure, this meeting isn’t a disciplinary hearing. It’s simply a fact-finding one to discuss the problem and to see what the employee has to say for themselves. At the meeting itself you can show them your policy, explain how they’ve breached it and then remind them that the policy’s purpose is to project and maintain a professional image and this supersedes their right to wear what they want (allowing for religious and medical requirements, where applicable). It might well be that your employee didn’t read or properly understand the policy, in which case the meeting itself should be enough to make sure the issue doesn’t recur. However, if your employee then chooses to disregard your request and turns up for work again inappropriately dressed, next time you should consider implementing your formal disciplinary procedure.

Important considerations

There are a couple of things for you to consider here first:

  1. Is your policy a reasonable one, i.e. can you justify why you’ve set certain dress standards? This is more likely where you’re trying to portray a professional business image to your clients, etc. and it’s the norm in your industry, but you’re less likely to be able to show it’s reasonable where the employee’s job is a backroom one that doesn’t bring them into contact with the public.
  2. Was the attire a religious or cultural requirement or worn for medical reasons? If so, there might be an unlawful discrimination angle under the Equality Act 2010 if you choose to override that. You can still enforce clothing requirements here that are for necessary health and safety, hygiene or security reasons.

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