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Business counsellors get such interesting questions about dress codes in the workplace. I have been asked:
…and so many more.
These questions are interesting because the answer is ... It depends!
Dress code problems arise when the requirements of the dress code infringe on employee rights under the Human Rights legislation of Canada. Violation of the code is discrimination. Discrimination can be direct or indirect, intentional or unintentional. It is your duty as an employer to ensure that your dress code policies do not discriminate against any individual based on protected grounds.
Here are some of protected grounds that are most problematic with dress codes:
Let's undress some of the problems…
Here are some tips to ensure your dress code is not discriminatory:
There are instances when dress code requirements are a part of the safety system of a job. When an individual deems that safety equipment interferes with a protected right, an employer has a duty to demonstrate the equipment is a bona fide occupational requirement and that the employer tried to accommodate the employee’s concern to the point of undue hardship.
Whether you have a dress code now, or you are thinking about implementing one, keep an open mind and a willingness to accommodate all the protected rights we are privileged to have in Canada.
Do you have questions about dress codes or human rights? CFIB members can call their business counsellor at 1 888 234-2232?
Who is Jocelyn?
Jocelyn Rhindress is the Manager of Business Resources in Atlantic Canada. In her more than her seven years with CFIB Jocelyn has assisted thousands of members with their business inquiries. Her compassion for entrepreneurs started at a young age. Jocelyn grew up watching both her grandfather and father run their own small independent businesses where she witnessed both the joys and struggles that entrepreneurs face on a regular basis.