• Leah Norman

Thinking of doing away with your Dress Code Policy?

Employers are under pressure to break away from the requirement for formal business attire or uniform standards in an effort to become more relatable to clients or customers and in pursuit of a more relaxed work culture.

It is 2021 and still, many of the businesses that we work with have some form of an appearance and dress code policy, or contractual clause, which commonly requires employees to wear a particular uniform or have a certain standard of appearance.

Increasingly, workplaces have dropped or relaxed dress code policies which previously required that professional business attire would be worn at all times in the office.

Many corporate workplaces that previously adhered to formal dress codes – think for example, banks, accounting firms and law firms – have now taken a flexible approach and have encouraged "neat business attire" (no tie or suit required).

However, changing the standards of an appearance and dress code policy will depend on many factors and a less formal dress code may not always be appropriate for all workplaces.

Below are some factors that you may want to consider before getting rid of, or changing a dress code policy:

1. One in all in?

For some businesses, it may be still appropriate to require client-facing employees to have a formal uniform or wear business attire. For employees who do not have contact with the public or clients and work largely in the back office, a formal uniform or business attire may not be necessary. In such circumstances, employers may wish to allow employees to ditch the suit and tie and simply wear what is commonly known as 'neat business attire'. Another option for employers who are considering taking a more flexible approach is to only require employees to wear formal business attire on days where there are meetings with external third parties.

2. Too casual?

There is always the risk when relaxing an appearance or dress code policy that the standard of attire becomes too low. Whilst most employees will know what is and is not appropriate workplace attire, unfortunately there are some who may push the envelope and take “dress down” days a little bit too far (think onesies, ugg boots and jandals). Similarly, with activewear becoming a more common fashion choice, employers should set out some clear expectations about what is acceptable and not acceptable business attire, even for casual or “dress-down” days.

3. Safety and personal protective equipment

For some workplaces, safety may dictate that a uniform or other personal protective equipment (PPE) is required.

For employers, it is important to note that there is no “one size fits all” approach with appearance and dress code policies. You should carefully think about and then adopt a policy which suits the needs of your business and, if desired, provides flexibility to employees.


This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Yellow Consulting does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.