The latest controversial story relating to workplace uniform was revealed last week. A Dutch supermarket had asked staff to upload photographs of themselves wearing their underwear or tight fitting sportswear so that it could calculate the size of their required uniform. Unsurprisingly, the request did not go down well and the company abandoned the trial.

There have been many workplace uniform related news stories in recent years, usually relating to what women can or can’t wear at work. Some of the stories this year have included employers around the globe being criticised for:

  • banning female employees from wearing glasses;
  • offering female employees bonuses to wear skirts or dresses;
  • telling female employees they have to wear heels; and
  • encouraging women to wear make up.

Dress codes are used in the workplace from many reasons, for example, to ensure employees are easily identified, for health and safety reasons, to fit with a corporate image or brand. However, it is important that any workplace policy on dress code and appearance is not discriminatory in relation to a protected characteristic, such as age, sex, religion or belief or disability. Any requirements under a workplace policy should be reasonable, relate to the job in question and should not be stricter for one gender over the other.