ACAS has recently published guidelines on dress code and appearance in the workplace. As facial hair is becoming more popular, we have certainly noticed an increase in client concerns about employees not appearing clean shaven. We often receive queries also in relation to facial piercings and tattoos, particularly for client-facing employees.

Although the ACAS guidance is not legally binding, it is recommended to follow as best practice. ACAS has reminded all employers that they must avoid any unlawful discrimination in their dress code policies and must treat men and women equally, even though they may have different requirements. They also provide a reminder that you many need to make reasonable adjustment to your dress code policies for disabled employees.

Employers often have an image of their company which they are keen to promote and so dress code policies should cover the style of clothing expected. Often, employers wish to request that tattoos and piercings are at least covered up at work. Although you may believe you have a right to make such a request, ACAS reminds employers to ensure they have sound business reasons for their requests.

You may also wish to address issues around religious dress within your policies. However, you are advised to be cautious in your approach as some religions encourage individuals to wear certain items to manifest their faith. In order to avoid religious discrimination claims, employers will need to justify any requirements that conflict with the employee’s desire to manifest or conform to the rules of their religion. We recommend you take advice from your EW Adviser on this issue.

If an employer does decide to adopt a dress code or appearance code it should be written down in a policy which should be communicated to all staff so they understand what standards are expected from them before a problem arises. We can help you draft a policy.

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