Unpolished Problems: How to politely enforce your dresscode

by Evil HR Lady on January 6, 2015

“We have a male employee whose large belly makes his shirt buttons pop open, leaving his skin exposed. We also have a female employee who has gained weight over time but has not purchased new clothing. Her tight clothing reveals her undergarments. This is a horribly awkward and uncomfortable situation, but their attire is not appropriate for the office. How should HR address this?”

To read the answer click here: Unpolished Problems: How to politely enforce your dress code.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Northern HR January 7, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you for saying this is not just HR’s job! It really is an awful subject to tackle, and I find it worse when I have to speak to an employee as the third-person. If a staff member or manager come to me because Suzy has bad breath, or she has been wearing the same hair style for 3 days in a row (actual complaint!), or that she has BO, or that she is violating dress code… I USED to have to ‘script’ what I would say so that it would not come across as “Suzy, someone tattled on you…”. How uncomfortable Suzy must be to find out that everyone else has complained about her breath! So, once a complaint would come to me, I started finding a reason to spend time around Suzy or her desk and then I would bring it up as though it was only coming from me “and just a heads-up to avoid you being embarrassed…”

But lately, I have tried throwing it back to the complainer’s court. If Suzy has bad breath – did you offer her gum? If you don’t like her hairstyle – does it REALLY effect your job and how you do it? Do you care? Does it matter? She is wearing a pink shirt under her uniform instead of a black one – does it really matter to you and does it effect the quality of her work? (the shirt colours are in our dress code and I will bring this up but it is never something another employee should be concerning themselves with). The BO and basic personal hygiene issues are the ones that are the worst to deal with but I can certainly help a manager with it.

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Evil HR Lady January 8, 2015 at 11:18 am

Ummm, is it bad to wear my hair in the same style 3 days in a row? I’m kind of going on about 20 years in a row, and so far no one has complained.

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Boboccio January 9, 2015 at 8:40 pm

HA ha ha. I can just imagine…
“Mr. HR, Mr. HR, Jones has had the same haircut for three days in a row!”
“Have you ever considered that you should fill your day with work? Your workload is hereby doubled.” -me

A fantasy of mine.

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Julie January 8, 2015 at 5:18 am

In my opinion if it isn’t breaking the law or policy then the manager complaining is a big baby and needs to be accessed. Waste of time!

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Evil HR Lady January 8, 2015 at 11:18 am

Well, sometimes companies (especially small ones) don’t have policies in place for dress and hygiene, and they really are problematic. If your receptionist came in stinking and with her shirt buttons straining, you’d need to speak up, even if there was no policy.

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