Should There Be Restrictions On 'Dress Down Days'?

Dress down days are a great opportunity for employees to relax a little in the workplace. But do they go too far? And should companies be introducing restrictions?

The ‘dress down day’ or casual Friday is commonplace among businesses of all sizes – primarily, of course, those with a stricter or more formal dress code. And while some companies dedicate one day a week to more relaxed attire, others use it as a way to raise money for charity and will charge staff a nominal fee – for example $5 - to wear their jeans to work.

However, the question arises of whether or not there should be restrictions on what can or cannot be worn on a casual day. You could argue that regulating dress down day defeats the point. After all, as an employer, are you really in a position to say what is and isn’t acceptable when you’ve already agreed that employees can wear clothing of their choosing?

On the other hand, your staff are still at work and are representing your business and, especially if you’re client-facing, it could be argued that some kind of rules should be adopted and certain clothing restricted.

Why a dress down day is a good thing

Dress down days are a good way of boosting staff morale by allowing them to show a little personality in a corporate environment - plus it’s a perk that costs the business nothing. However, if you’re currently struggling with people showing up to the office in inappropriate clothing, or you’re thinking about implementing casual Friday in your company, it may well be a good idea for your HR department to draw up some guidelines that work for your business – and a policy for dealing with persistent offenders – sooner rather than later.

What type of clothing could you consider restricting on casual Friday?

Whilst realizing the benefits of a casual Friday, here are some restrictions you might want to put in place. 

Offensive clothing

If you’ve had staff turning up to work wearing t-shirts bearing offensive logos or slogans in bad taste then there is an argument to be had for laying down some rules. Likewise, you might want to consider asking staff not to wear revealing clothing. Obviously, you’ll need to be careful around this topic and ensure there are no double standards for men and women. But a ban across the board on very short shorts, for example, could be justified for both sexes.   

Looking scruffy

It can get tricky when it comes to ruling what is ‘too scruffy’ for your workplace. After all, the perception of what is casual can vary wildly from person to person. Where do you draw the line when it comes to distressed denim, for example? Is a pair of expensive jeans that have been artfully ripped in a factory in Italy really any different to a favorite pair of battered old Levis? 

Designer brands

At the other end of the scale, you may have staff using dress down day as (ironically) a reason to flaunt their designer wardrobe. This can be problematic if you have a workforce that is divided by wide pay gaps. It goes back to the old school uniform debate – when everyone is dressed the same, whether in a uniform or in office-appropriate clothing, there is nothing that will blatantly scream “I earn way more money than you!”

Author: Cathy is a freelance writer who primarily writes about business, fitness and food.

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