In May 2018, the Government Equalities Office published new guidance for employers, employees and job seekers on dress codes in the workplace and sex discrimination.

The guidance states that:

Dress codes can be a legitimate part of an employer’s terms and conditions of employment and are usually put in place in order to present and maintain professional appearances or as part of health and safety requirements.

Dress policies for men and women do not have to be identical but the standards they impose should be equivalent. It is also best to avoid gender specific prescriptive requirements.

Consulting employees and trade unions over any proposed dress code or changes to an existing code will help ensure that the code is acceptable to both the organisation and its staff.

Why is this important?

Dress codes can lead to sex discrimination claims if men and women are treated differently. Any less favourable treatment because of sex would be direct sex discrimination.

Employers will be expected to follow this guidance as it comes from the Government Equalities Office. Employers should therefore take care to ensure that employees are treated fairly and consistently in relation to dress codes, and that their policies and procedures reflect this guidance.

If you require advice on dress codes, or would like WBW to review your policies and procedures, please contact us on 01626 202404 or email – lawyer@wbw.co.uk.