With the onset of summer, rising temperatures and longer days, employers may want to consider implementing a summer dress code as an inexpensive way to improve employee productivity and morale and make employees feel more comfortable when the heat hits.
However, it is essential for employers to keep these dos and don’ts in mind when implementing and enforcing any summer dress code.
Do Communicate the Summer Dress Code Policy to Employees
It is essential to communicate the summer dress code policy to all employees so they know what is expected of them. The summer dress code policy can be a stand-alone policy or an addendum to the dress code policy. A copy should be distributed to all employees and supervisors and made part of any employee handbook.
Also, all employees should be required to acknowledge that they have received, reviewed, understand and consent to the summer dress code policy and realize that they may face discipline for violations. Additionally, the policy should clearly notify employees of its parameters, including:
• What is considered acceptable and unacceptable workplace attire;
• When it will take effect (i.e., Memorial Day to Labor Day, every Friday during the summer); and
• When employees will be required to resume usual dress code guidelines.
All employees and supervisors should be provided with training on the parameters of the policy as well as the business reasons behind it.
Do Stress the Need to Look Professional and Appropriate
Even though an employer may be willing to relax the dress code and implement a summer dress code, it is important to let employees know they should remain professional and appropriate for the workplace at all times. Of course, the employer’s restrictions will vary based on each particular workplace and the amount of interaction with customers, clients and other third parties.
The employer should provide clear examples of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable and explain the reasoning behind the restrictions and the goal of having employees maintain a professional workplace. For example, khakis, collared shirts, polo shirts, sundresses and capri pants will generally be viewed as appropriate while gym shorts, jean shorts, beach cover ups, or tops revealing too much skin, flip flops and casual beach shoes and athletic apparel will generally be considered unacceptable workplace attire.
Don’t Discriminate Against Employees
An employer should be careful about dress code policies that impose unequal burdens on men and women or other protected classes as the employer could face a discrimination claim. Similarly, the summer dress code should not single out particular groups of employees.
However, an employer can impose different dress codes on different groups of employees in different job categories if there is a justifiable business need. What’s more, in enforcing any dress code, an employer should be careful not to discriminate based on sex, religion, national origin or transgender status. Additionally, an employer should keep in mind that it may be required to provide accommodations based on religion or transgender status to employees.
Do Follow Up on Violations
It is important for managers and supervisors to be consistent and enforce the summer dress code uniformly and follow up on violations. Any violations should be noted and properly documented.
If a supervisor or manager sees that an employee is violating the dress code, the supervisor or manger should ask if there is a reason for the employee violating the dress code and see if the violation can be fixed. A supervisor or manager should not hesitate to warn the employee and impose the necessary discipline.
Don’t Forget About Hygiene and Grooming
In addition to the summer dress code, it may be important during the warmer months to emphasize the importance of proper hygiene and grooming, as well as addressing any potential body odor. An employer should aim to promote good health among its employees and a clean image.
Finally, in considering any hygiene and grooming policy, an employer should remember that it also may be required to provide religious accommodations when it comes to head, facial and body hair.