When it comes to “business casual”, hot summer weather may cause some employees to more broadly interpret the “casual” and ignore the “business” aspect of office attire. This can create problems for employers.
Co-workers wearing more revealing clothes increases the risk of inappropriate comments and conduct that potentially can lead to sexual harassment claims. And other employees can be offended by the revealing nature of some summer wear. Plus, employers worry that a very relaxed approach to attire could lead to an overly relaxed approach to customer service and other aspects of work that adversely affect public image and workplace interactions.
Does your current dress code policy need to be more specific about what is — and is not –acceptable during the summer months? If so, define “business casual” and let employees know what, if any, items are prohibited in a clearly communicated dress code policy that includes the reasons behind it.
- If flip-flops, cutoff shorts and tee-shirts, Hawaiian-style shirts or very short sundresses are not appropriate in your workplace, state that in a clear memo and inform employees during staff meetings.
- Remind employees of your organization’s policy against harassment and point out that comments about an employee’s clothing constitute inappropriate conduct that violates the policy.
- Be consistent in enforcing the dress code and be sure that employees know the consequences for non-compliance.
- Keep in mind that application of a dress code should be flexible enough to account for cultural or religious obligations of some employees.
Photos: Shorts are never office appropriate — they are too laid back. If you’re going sleeveless, pair the top with slacks rather than a short skirt; always avoid baring too much skin in the office.