Dress Codes

I’m looking for a dress code policy which explicitly states there’s no dress code.

My organisation focuses on food rescue. We have a hierarchical/democratic structure (we’re working on less hierarchical). We have 11 active staff. Our staff are very diverse in terms of race, culture, religion, age, ability, class, and gender identity. Our annual turnover is 300k-500k.

We chose not to have a dress code, and that worked when we had 3 employees. However, we recently had an incident where someone told someone else they were dressed inappropriately and that they needed to change.

We didn’t have a policy to point to and say that wasn’t allowed. We want to provide the person with dress code concerns the language and scaffolding to state they were uncomfortable and request something different, while at the same time letting the person who felt confident in their clothing choice know that they do not have to accommodate the request.

This specific incident was a culture clash, someone from a conservative religious culture and someone from a culture that has less rules around their body.


Hi, I have a couple of thoughts from HR resources that may be helpful as starting points for a policy.

You’ll probably want to start with an introductory statement setting out that you embrace the diversity of cultures and religions of everyone in your organisation and that you want everyone to feel comfortable at work and be sensitive to one another when it comes to dress / appearance.

You may also want to add something supportive about people transitioning to live in the gender with which they identify, particularly relevant if you happen to have any uniform / workwear requirements (although doesn’t sound like you do).

If there are any specific circumstances you need to reference e.g. health and safety and wearing protective clothing / safety boots for certain tasks, then include that. If the job involves working with machinery and food, it’s likely you need to include something about hair being tied back and/or covered and not wearing jewellery (except a wedding ring, the usual exemption).

You could also add that you if there are circumstances that make it difficult for someone to follow any agreed dress code baselines (for example, due to a disability or people who are experiencing certain menopausal symptoms), then the aim is to support them to find something that works for them within the general guidelines.

Then it would be setting out any agreements you have for baselines of dress / appearance if you come to any collective agreements on this.

Or a framework for difficult conversations re: dress and appearance.

Hope that helps a bit.


might also be worth checking back with the story from a few years ago about men taking Job Centre Plus to tribunals over unfair dress codes, as these might include some useful referencing and examples to include to keep things equitable and contextualised:


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