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Keeping Cool; Revisiting Dress Codes in the Summer

Do you think that Summer is finally here now? It seems to have taken a while to arrive!  Whilst most of us love the summer; brighter nights, picnics, a general feeling of being more energised. There is the small issue of what we wear to work in these temperatures that many Britons find difficult.

When considering your workplace summer dress code, the balance between maintaining a visual sense of professionalism versus ensuring one’s staff do not melt like a discarded ice lolly, is a fine one.

The starting point in striking such a balance is of course dependent on the type of workplace to begin with; what is acceptable summer dress on the building site will not be acceptable on the hospital ward or in a formal office environment. Employees that are client facing could most likely expect less relaxation in the formality of dress.

Of course ‘smart summer casual’ (“SSC”) is almost an entirely subjective concept; it may mean slacks, shirt and loafers to one person, but shorts, fedora and flips flops to another. Clearly then it is best to have a summer dress code expressly set out in writing as a standalone policy; employees must know they are in breach of a policy before any disciplinary action can be taken. 

There are two very practical reasons for this; a properly set out policy can stop employees from shooting way wide of the sartorial mark when making an SSC wardrobe decision. Secondly it ensures there is some formal policy to point to for those that understand the boundaries set but go beyond them regardless.

Where possible it should be ensured that such a policy ensures parity between men and women in terms of the degree of formality with which they are expected to dress under the summer code.

If there are certain roles in the workplace that make it difficult to reduce the dress required, alternative cooling methods should be considered by employers, such as provision of cold drinks in communal areas, as well as providing free (odourless) antiperspirant in the office bathrooms. These are small tokens however make a big difference to employees dealing with the hot weather at work and so can ensure productivity levels are maintained when otherwise they might begin to slip due to fatigue.

Here at SCE Solicitors, we have a wealth of experience in assisting employers on all issues relating to dress code and drafting appropriate policies.  If you would like to discuss your company dress code or any other employment law issue, please contact us on 01133 50 40 30 or at hello@scesolicitors.co.uk.

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SCE Solicitors is a boutique employment law and dispute resolution practice based in Leeds which advises clients nationwide.  Please note that the information in this blog is to provide information of general interest in a summary manner and should not be construed as individual legal advice. Readers should consult with SCE Solicitors or other professional counsel before acting on the information contained here.

Samira Cakali

Samira Cakali is a pragmatic and approachable solicitor advocate with extensive contentious and non-contentious experience in the fields of employment law as well as civil litigation, within a range of commercial businesses from SME’s to multinationals as well as senior executives.

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