Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Flouting summer dress codes in the office

In an ideal world, we’d all be able to wear whatever we choose. Dress codes wouldn’t be an issue because we’d all be comfortable with the status of our relationships – work or social, formal or friendly – that we wouldn’t need to dress ‘appropriately’. Hell, who even cares what you or anybody else thinks is appropriate!

But we live in a world of offices, regulations and dress codes. And no matter how unjust you may think it is, you can’t turn up for a summer internship at The Times newspaper wearing a leather mini skirt and a boob tube. Now dress codes are being pushed to the limits because of the heat, here are a few things to remember about office dress codes in the summer.

Your boss has the final say. And just because your manager doesn’t make his or her feelings known – if it’s not a major breach, for instance – there could still be a black mark against your name for wearing shorts to the office without permission. 

Some bosses are flexible. Hell, some will let you wear whatever you like all the time, although this is mostly in the creative industries. But for those with a dress code, when temperatures soar it’s worth asking your boss if you can remove your tie, wear shorts, or however far you think you can push it. But always remember to justify it by saying it will make you work better. If your boss has any sense at all, he or she will realise that you’ll do more work if you’re not suffering with heat stroke.

Too much flesh is always a no-no. Even if it’s a big cleavage with your business suit, by far the most common transgression when it comes to dress codes is having too much skin on show. Even in offices that allow shorts, consider the distraction your thighs could cause if displayed too prominently.

You do have legal rights, albeit very limited. In the UK, your employer is allowed to make you wear a tie and long trousers, even in summer. But your boss isn’t allowed to enforce a dress code for some members of staff (i.e. men) and not others, providing they perform the same role. While there is no legal maximum temperature, the Health and Safety Executive states that the temperature must be ‘reasonable’. If it gets above 90 degrees, it’s worth complaining and/or asking for a relaxation of the dress code.