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Don't Get Pinned Up On Dress Code Decisions

Morrisons case highlights need for clear HR policies and procedures says Croner

​The recent high-profile case of a Morrisons supermarket worker who was disciplined for wearing banned items emphasises the need for employers to have clear dress code rules and sensible crisis management procedures, says Croner, UK experts in HR  (www.cronersolutions.co.uk), part of global information services business, Wolters Kluwer.

Richard Smith, Employment Law Expert, at Croner comments on the situation: "The reasons for the company's concern appear to be mixed across a number of areas, each of which may be a legitimate concern: i.e. wearing of wristbands in a food prep setting; non-compliance with a rule barring the wearing of any pins, badges or wristbands; refusal to comply with instructions when asked to remove them and walking off when spoken to.

"They do not appear to have taken a view that the symbolism of the item was the issue; it could have been a shamrock or a Mickey Mouse badge and they would have taken the same view.

"However; this and other similar cases, such as the BA one, are an example of when what looks like a fairly normal attempt to enforce rules creates a media firestorm. For larger employers in particular I would counsel that if they ever feel that there is a PR dimension to a case that they should escalate it not only to their HR team for the appropriate legal advice, but also engage with their PR team as to how to handle such stories."

Croner also advises employers not to ignore a breach of rules once they have started to tackle them as this would leave them open to charges of inconsistency in future cases where they attempt to enforce a rule. In addition they warn of the dangers of allowing certain types of badges or wrist bands and not others. Richard says: "It is much easier and better to have clear rules about what can and can't be worn rather than discretionary ones as they are easier to apply."

About Croner
Croner, a Wolters Kluwer business, is the UK’s largest provider of workplace information, software and services. It has served HR, health & safety and business professionals since 1948. Wolters Kluwer is a market-leading global information services company with annual revenues (2011) of €3.4 billion and maintains operations in over 40 countries across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices.

You can follow Croner and Wolters Kluwer UK on Twitter: @cronervoice, @wolterskluweruk