I’ve been giving this one a lot of thought recently.
The weather has been nice and we have seen quite a bit more of our neighbours and friends (if you know what I mean!).
When it comes to the world of work more and more people work from home and therefore the idea of getting dressed up for work is seen by many as a thing of the past. In fact it’s so bad that in some cities the dry cleaners have closed due to lack of business.
In Day Nurseries, Pre-schools and Out of School Clubs there is often a uniform of some description.
A tabard was once very common, as were tunics. These were worn by both male and female practitioners and were often made of synthetic materials therefore meaning that the employee got warm in the nice weather.
Then we had the rise of the polo shirt and fleece. Great for cold days but again didn’t provide pockets for practitioners and didn’t always flatter the wearer.
More recently HMRC began to ask questions of employers who required their team to wear certain clothes to work that they didn’t provide. This included Wagamana who was fined by HMRC for requiring their team members to wear black trousers and black shoes to work, the issue being that requiring this brought the employees wages below the national minimum wage.
In order to avoid potential national minimum wage breaches employers who pay on or near the national minimum wage must consider their policy. In some cases they have kept the requirement and provided a small uniform allowance for team members to purchase their appropriate workwear.
6 Reasons to ditch the Dress Code
In 2023 I think there is a very strong argument to ditch the Dress Code and this is why:
- Team members are individuals so expressing themselves as an individuals through their choice of hair colour, tattoos, long skirt or trousers is part of their wonderful differences.
- Public attitude towards tattoos and similar has changed. It’s no longer associated in a negative way. So long as the tattoo is not offensive that is!
- Costs- providing uniform items is expensive and costly to maintain.
- Recruitment crisis – we know of people who would not consider working at a setting if their uniform colour was unflattering to them. Orange jumpsuit anyone?
- Weather – whether the weather is hot or cold, ditching the Dress Code when someone is hot or cold and allowing them to decide what they wear to be comfortable can help with wellbeing and attendance.
- Menopause etc. Whether your team member is experiencing symptoms or whether they are struggling with their menstrual cycle being able to be flexible about their choice of work clothes can improve their comfort and their attendance.
- Attitudes towards work- Generation Z love choice, they love to feel they can exercise choice, therefore giving those who want to express that choice that freedom can improve staff happiness and retention. More and more of us know people who work at home and whilst Early Years and Childcare employee’s don’t they might enjoy flexibility when it comes to workwear.
We can’t forget Health & Safety
What everyone does need to consider is the employee’s and the children’s health and safety.
Ensuring hygience and infection control is everyone’s responsibilities and employers have a duty of care and must provide PPE free of charge.
Messy activities that might cause damage to a employee’s clothes are often commonplace and a practitioner should be able to use PPE to prevent such damage.
Jewellery should not pose a risk to the Health & safety of the wearer or the children. Nails should not be able to scratch, be broken by a child and hurt the practitioner or ‘pop off’. Chipped polish is a worry as it may transfer in food preparation if gloves aren’t being worn.
Footwear is another aspect of Dress Codes. The standard is that footwear shouldn’t be heavy Doc Martens or anything that could cause an issue such as a flimsy flip flop that could lead to a trip hazard. The question is often asked at risk assessment, can you run in this?
Again not everyone will be happy with the choice of footwear but you are being reasonable to require it to be sensible. People like to choose what they have on their feet for 10 hours a day. Again if requiring slippers and staff are on or near the national minimum wage you need to provide the slipper or provide an allowance.
If you have any questions about dress codes, please do contact us on 01527 909436.