Should males wear skirts at work?

It has been announced that some schools will allow boys to wear skirts and girls to wear trousers. Should such flexibility be extended to the workplace?

The law requires dress codes to be equivalent in their effect for both men and women, for them to be otherwise would be discriminatory. It permits, for example, the requirement for men to wear a tie so long as the equivalent (accepted business dress) is required for women.

Although jeans and trousers have become unisex, it is safe to assume (for now at least) that in most employment contexts for men to wear female attire would be unacceptable. However. it should be noted that transgender individuals have protection and dress codes in their case should be individually discussed and agreed with individual employees.

Other matters to consider:

  • Health and safety: Employees to be dressed appropriately for the employment in question; that may prohibit skirts for men and women in some situations.
  • Tattoos and body jewellery: Consistency and a legitimate business reason for any restrictions are important here. Both are best established by a policy that is accepted by all, or at least a consensus, at the time it is written.
  • Religious considerations: Your approach should centre on what you are trying to achieve. For example, being well presented can be insisted upon irrespective of religious beliefs; that would be a business reason as would health and safety. The exact circumstances may determine whether an employer can restrict overt demonstration of religious beliefs. Most conflict can be resolved by reasonable discussion. Where this is not possible it would be wise to take further advice.

Employer Solutions have standard dress codes to fit most requirements.

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