What men wear at work is changing. Perhaps it is climate change or just a good summer but it is not unusual to see men favouring short sleeved shirts and open necks… And if women are not obliged to wear a tie and long sleeves, can you stipulate what men wear?
A dress code should clarify what you expect employees to wear. Employees have to comply with any reasonable dress code. That can include uniforms, specified styles of clothes or visible jewellery. Complying with a dress code, or established standards, is an implied term of the contract of employment.
Codes should set overall standards and need to require equivalent levels of smartness for men and women. The actual clothes worn do not need to be the same. For example, you could insist on men wearing a tie as long as you are seeking that equivalent level of smartness or formality from female employees. As an extreme example, a practice that insisted men wore suits while women in the same jobs were allowed ripped jeans, would be discriminatory. But, within reason, you can stipulate what you consider to be equivalent.
There is some more detail, of other matters to be considered, here.
Our dress codes allow the employer to set a standard while still allowing appropriate flexibility.
In general it means that if your male IT Manager turns up in short sleeves without a tie (and it compromises your dress code, or even established standards) then you are within your rights to ask him to go home and change. A refusal is unlikely, but if you are faced with that challenge then you could choose to follow a disciplinary process. To be proportionate, you will probably just ask him to dress appropriately tomorrow.
You don’t need to insist on what men wear at work. You might allow your IT Manager to set their own standards. But, so long as the requirements are not discriminatory, as the employer, you can still stipulate what men wear.
Malcolm Martin FCIPD
Author Human Resource Practice