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14th November 2014

What to Wear

Clothes Scattered On Floor And Hotel BedRecently questions have been asked about the need to wear that traditional business uniform: the suit. At QCS we have just reviewed the Policy and Procedure on Employee’s Appearance. A good juncture, perhaps to look at the pros and cons of uniforms in the care sector.

These and other appropriate work-wear are accepted or even required in some health areas of work, but in residential homes or domiciliary care this can be less so. Therefore what are the pros and cons?

The “pros” of uniforms at work

  • Uniforms create a corporate image of professionalism.
  • They engender “employer branding” which can lead to pride in working for you.
  • Employees may be too stretched financially to purchase good quality work clothes.
  • Uniforms allow you to define what “smart” means.
  • Uniforms generate favourable promotion if staff wear a uniform to and from work.

The cons of uniforms

  • Not all individuals are comfortable with a uniform, sometimes as a matter of principle.
  • Employers usually bear the cost of the uniform, and the uniform is not always returned.
  • There may be challenges on religious, disability or other grounds.

How to implement a uniform at work policy

The key word here is consultation. Many large employers engage in significant consultation not only over the principle of uniform wear at work but also over questions of the style and components of the outfit. Taken carefully almost all staff will engage with the idea if they are consulted.

A compromise may be to specify style and components such as black skirts and trousers, and white tops and shirts, and require the employees to make purchases themselves. Again consultation will be the key.

Objections on religious, gender, disability or other grounds that are protected (to a degree) by legislation should be referred to QCS or other HR specialists for advice.

If consultation fails to provide a comprehensive solution then it is, subject to tests of reasonableness, perfectly possible to implement the change and require employees to wear a uniform. But would be wise to have all but a few employees “on-board” before forcing the issue. Remember to give notice of the change in line with employees’ entitlement to termination of employment notice. You may also want to add a requirement to return the uniform (or suffer a wage deduction) if the uniform is not returned when they leave employment.

Malcolm Martin of Employer Solutions – QCS Human Resource Expert.



*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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