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What Not to Wear This Summer: Improve Your Business' Image with a Dress Code

Date: June 02, 2014

It’s your new receptionist’s first day on the job. She dressed very professionally at her interview, but today she’s wearing a tank top and a mini skirt. Not exactly the professional image you want greeting your clients. But other than applying to get your employee on one of those TV fashion shows, is there anything you can you do to improve both her image and your company’s? The answer is yes—establish a dress code. While creating a dress code for the workplace can be a tricky thing, the benefits of a consistently enforced policy generally outweigh the downsides. Watch this quick clip for more tips on establishing a dress code that works for your business.

What should your employees wear?
Keep in mind that different policies may be necessary for different types of employees. Realistically, no one should expect a receptionist to be dressed in the same attire as the maintenance staff. A broad reaching policy that covers both types of employees may be most appropriate, such as: Personal appearance and hygiene is a reflection of the company’s character, so employees are expected to dress appropriately for their individual work responsibilities and position.

If you’re concerned about employees’ creative interpretations of "appropriate attire," your dress code could ban specific items such as:
• tank tops or muscle shirts
• clothing with foul language or obscene images
• sweat pants or sweat suits
• flip flops

Don’t dress codes violate anti-discrimination laws?
Good question, since a poorly written dress code could place you on the receiving end of a lawsuit. Any policy that disproportionately affects a particular gender or race, or requires an employee to violate religious beliefs, could violate anti-discrimination laws. For instance, requiring women to wear skirts or banning ponytails or earrings for men while allowing women to have them could be viewed as gender discrimination.

For a model dress code policy, check out NFIB Legal Center's Model Employee Handbook.

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