The following Information is from ACAS – please adapt this information to working within a Family Home – the legalities are the same.
Dress codes are often used in the workplace and there are many reasons why an employer may have one, for example workers may be asked to wear a uniform to communicate a corporate image and ensure that customers can easily identify them. Often an employer will introduce a dress code for health and safety reasons, for example health care workers may not be allowed to wear jewellery for safety reasons when around patients and certain clothing may not be allowed in factories while operating machinery.
•Employers must avoid unlawful discrimination in any dress code policy
•Employers may have health and safety reasons for having certain standards
•Dress codes must apply to both men and women equally, although they may have different requirements
•Reasonable adjustments must be made for disabled people when dress codes are in place
A dress code can often be used by employers to ensure workers are safe and dressed appropriately. It should, however, relate to the job and be reasonable in nature, for example workers may be required to tie their hair back or cover it for hygiene reasons if working in a kitchen.
Tattoos and body piercings
Employers may wish to promote a certain image through their workers which they believe reflects the ethos of their organisations. Sometimes this can mean that they ask workers to remove piercings or cover tattoos while at work. Employers may believe they have a reasonable business reason for this especially when employees are dealing with customers. However, employers should carefully consider the reason behind the rule as they should have sound business reasons for requiring these dress codes. If an employer does decide to adopt a dress code or appearance code it should be written down in a policy which should be communicated to all staff so they understand what standards are expected from them.
Some employers may wish to cover issues around religious dress within their policies, however, employers are advised to tread cautiously in this area as they should allow groups or individual employees to wear articles of clothing etc that manifest their religious faith. Employers will need to justify the reasons for banning such items and should ensure they are not indirectly discriminating against these employees. Any restriction should be connected to a real business or safety requirement. Some recent legal decisions in this area suggest that people should be allowed to demonstrate their religious faith through their dress, for instance by wearing an unobtrusive cross symbol to denote Christianity or wearing a Yarmulke or Kippah (skull cap) as part of the Jewish faith. However, there have been other rulings based on different circumstances that may appear to conflict with this position.
In many cases the display of religious faith may be subtle and fit well with business or corporate dress. Employers are therefore advised to think about the image they want to convey and about how they can work with employees to allow them to manifest their faith in a way that does not conflict with this image, or health and safety requirements, rather than provide a very strict and limiting dress code.