How To Implement a Staff Uniform Policy
Uniform policies are a necessity in larger organisations, but they can be very useful in small to medium sized businesses too. A uniform policy explains how the company uniform should be worn, what is acceptable (and what is not), and the implications if these guidelines are breached. We break down the benefits, what to include and a free uniform policy template to get you started.
There are many aspects to a successful uniform program. You need to curate a specific "look" for your uniforms that aligns with your brand, ensure the various departments in your business are catered for, ensure that seasonal uniforms are included, ensuring the uniforms are fit for purpose, are high quality, fit with your budget, and consistent quality and colour. This should be outlined in your uniform design brief.
It can be very overwhelming. So it's understandable that once you rollout your new uniform, you protect its integrity by implementing a uniform policy so staff understand the expectations of them relating to their staff uniform.
The advantages of having a uniform policy
Some workplace environments dictate the dress code or uniforms required to be worn. This is particularly relevant if your team are required to wear compulsory hi-vis clothing or PPE due to workplace hazards. Another example is that it may not be safe for visitors to a factory to wear a tie or loose clothing near machinery, or wear particular footwear on certain surfaces.
Providing a document that clearly outlines the workplace standard relevant to the corporate dress has a number of benefits:
- When workers associate their uniform and grooming with a particular standard it can also foster a certain level of professionalism, which can positively impact performance.
- Employees clearly understand what is being asked of them so there is no confusion, leading to difficult conversations with managers.
- Strengthens the perception and awareness of the corporate brand.
- Ensures consistency across the business - colour, quality and how staff present themselves.
- Uniform policies allow you to define specific requirements for different business units which requires specific considerations be made to their uniform.
- Demonstrate your business' commitment to staff wellbeing and safety.
The difference between a Dress Code and a Uniform Policy
There is a difference between a work dress code and a uniform.
A dress code outlines the type and style of clothing permitted to be worn at work. Employers usually have a Dress Code Policy that outlines their requirements and rules. These may include the presentation and condition of clothing worn to work, revealing or offensive clothing. It might also indicate a specific style to be worn, for example "smart casual". In addition to the clothing itself, a corporate dress code policy may also cover footwear, jewellery, hairstyles and length, tattoos and body piercing.
Uniforms are usually compulsory and stipulate employees (or a specified role or business unit) to wear the same type of clothing. Some awards and enterprise agreements contain provisions covering the supply, wearing, replacement and laundry of uniforms. Some businesses provide for employees to be paid a “uniform allowance”. Employers are entitled to set uniform standards and require employees to comply. Download our free uniform policy template – it's fully editable to make it your own.
If you have (or are developing) a Uniform Policy, check that you are observing these 4 rules:
1. Include it in contractual documents
The uniform, and its use, must be written into the employment contract. You should also include it in your company policy and procedure manual. Some companies also have a Uniform Policy which allows you to be specific about the expectations. There should be no doubt that the employee fully understands that wearing a uniform is a condition of employment and you have been clear about the consequences if they do not comply.
2. Be clear who is financially responsible for the uniform
Most companies have a staff allowance for uniforms and are able to provide them free of charge to employees. Alternatively, some companies prefer the employees purchase the uniforms at cost from them. Whatever your policy, communicate this clearly to your staff and disclose the value of the uniform on all receipts if they are purchasing direct from you.
3. Know your obligations
If staff are purchasing their own uniform, by law you must pay them a uniform allowance, and in some cases an allowance to cover washing costs. Your obligations will vary depending on the industry you are in.
4. Avoid discrimination in your staff uniform policy
When writing your policy, consider everything that may prevent an employee from adhering to the rules — including those with a religious requirement. Justify and communicate any rules, that are crucial for safety reasons, respectfully.
Adjustments may need to be made for any staff member who has a disability, illness, allergy or staff who may not fit the standard uniform sizes provided.
The dress code should not differentiate based on gender. Rules must apply equally to each gender — even if particular garments differ.
What do you include in a Uniform Policy?
Whether you are creating a uniform policy from scratch or improving your existing one, here's what to include.
- Purpose – what are you trying to achieve by having a uniform policy
- Application – across which parts of the business does this uniform policy apply
- Policy - what aspects make up your uniform policy, describe the statements you want your team to uphold
- Guidelines – this outline all the guidelines that need to be observed such as responsibility, provisioning for uniforms, purchasing the uniforms, maintenance of uniforms, how to deal with uniform returns, personal hygiene and grooming, identification badges and consequences of non conformity.
Think about how you present the uniform policy to your staff. Where possible, try to make it visually engaging and descriptive. If you are revitalising your uniform policy, introducing one into a business with current uniforms, or starting a new business, this free template will help you plan out the content. You might also want to read our article which discusses stakeholder noise and risk mitigation surrounding the introduction of a new uniform or uniform provider.
Grooming and hygiene considerations
Some employers choose to include guidelines addressing personal grooming and hygiene standards for the workplace. A written policy should be designed to not only communicate workplace standards so employees know what is expected of them, but also support employer action if a workplace situation arises relevant to grooming or personal hygiene.
Grooming standards may include requirements such as uniforms be neat, clean, ironed and disheveled or clothing must not be too tight or revealing. It may also include specific requirements such as removal of body or facial piercings, wearing of nail polish, suitable footwear allowed or covering of tattoos. Depending on the industry your business is in, some grooming aspects may have a Health & Safety requirement.
Hygiene standards typically include requirements that employees must be regularly bathed or showered, use deodorant (body odour) and have appropriate oral hygiene (bad breath).
Casual Friday dress code policy
Casual Friday means something different for every company. If your team typically wear suits, appropriate casual attire might be "smart casual" – khakis or casual trousers, a button-front shirt and no tie for men or trousers, skirt, blouse or a dress for women.
Not all casual clothing is appropriate for the office.
Clothing that is typically worn at the beach, the gym or lounging around at home may not be appropriate for casual Friday at work.
This Uniform Policy template can be tailored to your business' needs and should be considered a starting point for setting up your company uniform policy. Check the Fair Work Ombudsman website to get more information for your industry or award, and always consult your legal team before implementing your Uniform Policy.