Dress Code and Hot Weather – Temperatures are Rising

Summer is here and the temperature has been rising to over 90 degrees. Where has the dress codes gone?

Now that it’s getting warm, okay, it is getting “hot”, businesses are seeing some employees who are wearing less and less to work every day. While it may not bother you, the Employer, it may well bother some of your employees who may be a little uncomfortable with the skimpy attire of their coworkers.

How should employers address this lack of “professional apparel”? As with most things that fall under the heading “best practices,” the key here is to remember general employment laws, consistency, and common sense.

Employers should approach employees’ attire with the same degree of objective scrutiny with which they approach other visual and verbal incidents in the workplace (such as workers wearing t-shirts with inappropriate sayings or displaying pictures on their desks and bulletin boards).

Although you may think that some people look better in skimpy clothes than others, your opinion is irrelevant to what you should do about improper workplace attire. If you address inappropriate clothing with one person, make sure you address it with everyone else who is wearing something similar. Most importantly, use common sense. If you have to rationalize whether an employee’s attire is appropriate for work, chances are good that it is not, and you need to address it.

The best thing an employer can do to prevent employees’ summer attire from becoming a problem is to adopt and publish a dress code policy. If your employees know what’s acceptable, they have an opportunity to comport themselves accordingly.

A dress code policy will also help you objectively discern what’s acceptable. For the most part, employers are free to adopt and enforce rules governing how employees must dress. However, there are some important factors to consider when setting workplace dress codes.

Rules regulating appearance, whether they’re based on safety factors or simply traditional values, are fine as long as they don’t discriminate unfairly against a particular group. Enforce your dress codes and other appearance-related rules with the awareness that they should be evenly weighted toward all employees and applied consistently when violations occur.

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