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Meeting the dress code and looking the part for the job

Published 03 August 2015

The face of policing is changing and Bobbies on the beat will get a clean-cut look.

They may once have been known as the fuzz, but police chiefs in Gloucestershire have proposed new rules which will see officers banned from having bushy beards.

It will mean cops will have to be clean shaven or wear a beard net thought to be similar to those worn by workers in the food industry.

Enforcing a strict dress and appearance code can be a problematic and controversial matter for any employer.

Many businesses have firm policies on tattoos from banning them completely to making sure they are covered up. Piercings can also fall foul of an employer’s dress and appearance code.

High profile cases to hit the headlines include an airport worker sent home for visibly wearing a cross, a Sikh policeman ordered to remove his turban to do riot training and a trainee teacher sent home on her first day because her arms and neck are covered in tattoos.

Employers can stipulate how employees dress at work, as long as there is a legitimate or good reason for doing so.

Valid reasons include for hygiene purposes, health and safety or to project a professional image. The justification should relate to the job and be reasonable.

Any policy should avoid unlawful discrimination, apply to men and women and make reasonable adjustments for disabled employees.

The policy should be set out in the employment contract or employee handbook and be proportionate to what the business is trying to achieve.

Taking disciplinary action against an employee who fails to adhere to an established dress or appearance code can be considered reasonable - depending on the circumstances.

Issues around religious dress should be covered within company policy and consideration given to whether it is appropriate to allow articles of clothing that show religious faith.

Acas recommends consulting employees over proposed dress codes. Once an agreement has been reached, it should be written down in a formal policy and communicated to all staff 'so they understand what standards are expected from them'.

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