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Should Employees Be Allowed To ‘Dress Down’ in Summer?

Published February 08, 2017 (last updated December 3, 2020) -

It is officially summer time. While New Zealand may not necessarily be known for its soaring temperatures, heat and humidity can cause discomfort, particularly for those who have a certain work dress standard to maintain.

If you have a specific dress code in place, when summer does arrive you may receive requests from employees to alter it to accommodate. This can raise some questions from employers as to whether they can deny the request or perhaps alter their dress code for this particular period of time. In some instances, employers may wonder if they can be more lenient with those who feel the effects of heat, while maintaining standards for others who may not.

Dress codes and standards vary from workplace to workplace and depend entirely on the work performed. As a business owner or employer, you can instil a dress code that you deem to be appropriate for the line of work you and your employees carry out. Bear in mind, if there are requirements for specific standards due to health or safety reasons, you must comply.

With this in mind, you are within your rights to allow a different standard of dress in any situation you deem appropriate, including allowing for comfort during the summer months.

If you do need to maintain a dress code at all times, regardless of the season or any other circumstance, you are entitled to do so and can refuse requests to alter this standard. To protect yourself against any failure to comply, implement a dress code policy, explaining what is expected and what is not appropriate.

You will need to make all employees aware of this policy, ensuring they understand the requirements associated. Best practice would be to introduce the policy to all new staff during induction, providing a written copy for them to digest and make sure copies of the policy are placed in easily accessible locations throughout the workplace as a visible reminder. Have all employees sign a document to acknowledge they have read and understood the policy as this will help to ensure clarity.

Be careful not to treat employees differently. If you agree to alter the standard for some, you must allow it for all your staff. Similarly, if you refuse alteration, this must be the standard across the board.

There are many workplace policies you can introduce to protect yourself and your business, and to make sure employees understand their requirements. As the leading workplace relations specialist, Employsure can guide you on building strong policies for any type of workplace. Call us today on 0800 568 012.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of New Zealand’s largest workplace relations advisers to small and medium businesses, with over 5,500 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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