We’ve all seen the article about the woman fired for “being a distraction”. If you haven’t, you are a hobbit, check out the link and visit the outside world.
The Queen has to ask…Was her chest not at the interview? How was her appearance a surprise? I talk about guidebooks all the time, but I can’t imagine the tape them down policy! They asked her to wear a bathrobe all day to cover herself up or leave to buy a sweater that came down to her ankles. As the HR Person my mind is whirling. Does everyone in the office have the choice of bathrobes or sweater dresses? Is it just the women? Is it just the busty women? Let me add the busty woman you hired to work at your lingerie distribution center owned by orthodox Jews, the irony is not lost on me. I digress! I’m just going to say, they are in trouble. If they didn’t have a dress code and are subjectively enforcing what this person can wear, TROUBLE. Gloria is going to nail them to the wall. She’ll be buying plenty of bathrobes, paid for by her lawsuit.
Let’s get back to your Kingdom. It’s summer, are you ready for it? You should be! It’s hot, your staff is going to push the line of what is appropriate. Sundresses, flip flops, short shorts and tank tops are all going to be making an appearance in front of your customers. If you have a factory, imagine the injuries caused by having open toed shoes, flowing sundresses getting caught in machines and burns from exposed arms. Never mind how offended people are by the employee that crosses the line and sets it on fire!
I’m forever preaching about the Guidebook. If you don’t have a book, consider a memo. It’s summer. First think about safety, what needs to be covered to prevent injury. Closed toed shoes are the first thing that comes to mind. Flip flops are a safety nightmare. If you have a uniform that’s long sleeves, is there a short sleeve variation for summer? Make sure to add dates that the variation is acceptable. Employees push limits, without dates they’ll be hot in November and no one will match. Second, consider who comes in contact with different people. You may have a different dress code for your staff that works with customers than that of an office staff that only come in contact with each other. You can have different standards for each sector. Just not for each person.
Once you write this policy, be ready to enforce it. It’s worthless if you don’t. Add to that policy what the consequences are. Consider your discipline options, first a write up, second offense home to change without pay and maybe third send home for day without pay. However your structure you have to follow it. If you don’t, the most lax thing you did will become your policy. Or, you can be accused of discrimination. I’m going to say it again, CONSISTENCY, is the key to policy. Write what you will and can do. If you can’t function by sending someone home, then don’t put it in the policy. If you don’t enforce policy it’s useless.
I shopped all weekend for shorts and flip flops, I saw some of your employees. Get writing or your Kingdom will look like a beach party!