If you’re considering implementing a uniform in your workplace, there are a number of factors you can consider in advance to make the process easier. Here are five of our commonly-asked questions about uniforms at work.
1. Who should wear it?
Consider whether a uniform is actually necessary for all employees. This will depend on why you have one. If it’s for image/brand promoting purposes it might be appropriate for staff who are out and about. If it’s for smartness and consistency of appearance to visitors, any customer-facing staff should wear your uniform. It might be health and safety reasons in which case any staff involved in roles with the health and safety issues concerned should be included.
2. Choose your design carefully
Think about what you’re hoping to achieve with your uniform when working with a designer/supplier, and what look you want, but also consider practicalities. Think about the tasks those wearing the uniform are expected to carry out and be sure the uniform is comfortable and practical at work, and will not hamper staff in their jobs.
Consult staff on proposed options and get their feedback – they may identify practical concerns with the uniform that you haven’t thought of. Make sure uniform is easy to care for and can be kept smart with minimal effort.
3. Who should pay?
It is fine to expect employees to pay for their uniform as long as you have the right in their contract to ask that. If you are implementing a uniform for existing staff, this is unlikely, and actually it’s better practice to provide uniform for your staff at your cost, at least a basic quantity perhaps with the option of allowing them to purchase more if they wish. Any requirement for them to pay cannot be applied to any uniform items which constitute Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health and safety purposes.
4. What about discrimination?
Uniform does have the potential to discriminate against protected groups and you should be careful of this. Religious employees may feel that expressing their religious identity in their appearance is important to them, or their religion may require restrictions on dress which are not consistent with your uniform. If you’re implementing a uniform, make sure you consult with staff to find out whether the proposed arrangements would impact more severely on a protected group. Look into modifications that may be possible to accommodate religious requirements – many uniform manufacturers are very used to providing modified versions of their products – and be flexible where you can whilst still achieving your business aims.
5. Pregnant workers
Clearly if you have standard issue uniform, it is unlikely to fit pregnant workers particularly towards the late stages of their pregnancy. There are various options available to you, and which is most appropriate may depend on the role the pregnant worker does and the reasons uniform is required. You should explore modifications to uniform, allow her to wear her own clothes or provide larger uniform at no cost to your worker if that option is available. As with most things, it’s about being reasonable.
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