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If Looks Could Thrill In The Workplace

Published December 18, 2015 (last updated June 24, 2020) Author: Employsure
Bearded And Tattooed Man Smiles While Working On Laptop

The way we look and the way in which we present ourselves at work is important. Why? Because physical appearance is a strong aspect of how we show our professionalism. However, the way we dress or the physical additions we have on our bodies is what sets us apart. Who would we be without individualism?

The fork in the road here is for employers wanting to meet the needs of employees, but also for employees to encompass excellent standards. The short back and sides haircut, the clean shaven face, the collar and tie kind of man and the manicured, make up wearing woman is desired in a corporate office. Employers want to make a good impression and in that feat, they should have policies and procedures in place to appear professional, well-groomed and successful. Differing industries may adopt differing standard but you should always make sure your expectations are clearly outlined.

In the pursuit of this well presented cohort of employees, employers need to cover the following physical attributes in their employment handbooks, while always considering the potential to discriminate at all times.

Visible tattoos and piercings

There is still a taboo against visible tattoos and piercings. Some people find them offensive. If tattoos and piercings are going to affect an employee’s performance or ability to perform their job, or the business brand, they should be covered up. If an employer wishes to implement a policy in which to cover up tattoos and remove piercings, as an employment requirement, you can. Bear in mind there may be some exceptions to the rules and be careful not to discriminate as some tattoos or piercings are for religious or cultural reasons.

The hipster beard and the coloured hair do

It is an interesting time of year, Movember, Beardcember and Januhairy, it is all about the facial hair. Although great for charities, facial hair can quickly become a headache for employers. When can you ask your employees to make the shave? The answer is, if it is a well groomed, well established beard they can keep it. But if it is somewhere in between a 3pm shadow and an untidy attempt, and you have specified, through formal means, there is a physical standard required employers can request a clean shaven face.

Whether it is ombre, sombre or balayage, if it is extreme it needs to be defined in your employee handbook. Pink hair, blue hair, green hair or other extreme colours can also be considered inappropriate in the workplace. The best way to control this is to clearly outline what is acceptable and what is not. Set the standard and always make yourself available if employees are unsure of what is acceptable. If they are unsure you can make it a rule that they must consult their manager before any extreme change are made to their physical appearance.


Business appropriate attire can always be made a requirement whilst at work.

If you have a causal dress code you will need to be clear on the specifics. For example, the length of clothing, appropriate footwear and how revealing the clothing can be. You also need to explain what will happen if the dress code is breached.

On a health and safety note, all clothing worn while at work should uphold safety regulations in order to avoid accidents or injury to employees. It is your duty to protect your staff while they are at work and if they are wearing the wrong thing, it is up to you to outline the risks and enforce change.

All employers should be setting the example and following their own standards and these standards need to be given to each employee when hired. To avoid discrimination, if any changes to the dress code or the way employees needs to conduct themselves physically, pass it on to everybody at the same time and do not single out employees.

If you would like to discuss dress and appearance safeguards in your workplace, call Employsure today on 1300 651 415. Employsure can help you implement policies and procedures, which can result in all your employees’ physical appearance being upheld and a professional standard set.

About Employsure

Employsure is Australia’s largest workplace relations specialists. We take the complexity out of workplace laws to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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