Half of all employers with a dress-code policy link it to the actual employment contract, according to research published by XpertHR.
The survey of HR staff at 31 organisations – covering a combined workforce of 280,000 employees – found that 49% had taken a regulatory approach by incorporating the dress code into the employment contract itself.
In terms of the types of dress codes, 43% of organisations stipulated smart casual/business casual; 27% uniform/overalls; 22% suits/formal business attire; and 3% relaxed.
Jeans were banned by half of the employers surveyed, and permitted with restrictions (such as not torn, or only on dress-down Fridays) by one-third. Only 15% allowed men to wear them with no restrictions, and 18% permitted women to do the same. Trainers were allowed without restrictions for men by 17% of employers, and 16% for women.
Nearly two-thirds of employers (59%) allow religious headwear to be worn in the workplace, such as turbans, hijabs and scarves, without any restrictions. And nearly half (46%) allow religious accessories such as crucifixes.
Jewellery is allowed to be worn with no restrictions for men or women by 46% of the respondents. One in five (22%) allow any type of piercings for men and 23% for women, and tattoos are allowed by 27% of employers for men, and 23% for women.
Almost all (97%) reported that the dress code is largely adhered to by employees. Of this number, 74% stated that little enforcement was required to ensure compliance, while 23% said that compliance had to be policed.
One in four (25%) of employers have had to discipline at least one employee for failure to comply with regulations or guidelines concerning dress or appearance in the past two years. And just over half (52%) have disciplined between two and five.
Eight organisations had received a complaint from an employee that their dress-code policy was discriminatory.
Some of the benefits of having dress codes that were cited included enhancing the corporate image (71%); encouraging staff engagement (29%); and helping to overcome equality issues in the workplace (23%).