Do dress codes and uniforms create unnecessary stress?
It’s the time of year again which many parents dislike for numerous reasons as their kids go back to school or to school for the first time. This time of the year is stressful at the best of times due to going back to school after a long summer holiday or having your first day at school, however recently there has been an added pressure in regards to uniforms.
An article recently published by the Metro demonstrated just how stressful buying uniform can become as parents in Stockton-On-Tees described waiting in ‘sprawling’ queues whilst children were screaming and crying with the worry that they might not be able to collect or purchase school uniform and therefore have to start the term without uniform.
The stress is not only physical when it comes to uniforms, it also affects parents financially. In a poll of 2,000 parents, Vouchercodes.co.uk found that the average cost of uniform, including PE kit and stationary, came to the total of £244.90. This figure demonstrates the amount of pressure and sacrifice that parents have to embrace in terms of equipping their children ready for the start of a school term.
It’s not just parents and pupils feeling the strain of uniforms. A trade union representing a colleague working for South Yorkshire Police has gone as far as to say the dress code for the Yorkshire police force is “draconian” with regards to its policies prohibiting vividly coloured hair, designer stubble and visible tattoos. However despite the criticism the Chief Constable has stated that the policy has been well-received by staff looking to ‘uphold standards’. Even with the backing from the Chief Constable, Unite has taken issue with the ‘appearance and standards’ code upheld by South Yorkshire Police.
The regional officer for Unite, Shane Sweeting said: “Unite fully appreciates that police officers and public-facing staff need to have some guidance, but to issue this huge procedural document is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.” This However Stephen Watson who sanctioned the policy changes said that “What is described as ‘draconian’ in some quarters represents no more than a clear and reasonable set of expectations as to the professional appearance of our staff”.
There has always been an interesting debate in terms of dress codes as it’s a grey area and often down to preference of the business owner. As a company here at HPC, we recommend including a dress code in the company handbook so that everyone is clear about the expectations. This is particularly important in client facing businesses.
In May, the Government Equalities Office published guidelines on where employers’ rules could fall foul of discrimination law. However, lawyers disparaged the advice for being oversimplified.
Even though uniforms and dress codes seem to cause stress and debate within the general public, a survey carried out last year by CV-Library stated that over 66% of staff enjoyed following a dress code. It is clearly an area which divides opinion but businesses should look to having a reasonable dress code in place which allows employees to be individuals but also maintain high standards.
If you would like further guidance and advice on dress codes, please do not hesitate to contact one of the HPC team.
T: 0844 800 5932