Home > Politics & social justice > Should dress code regulations be tighter in the United Kingdom?

Should dress code regulations be tighter in the United Kingdom?

It was recently reported by a number of Japanese news outlets that some domestic firms had instructed their female employees to stop wearing glasses in the workplace.

According to various retail chains, this gives them a “cold impression” that makes it harder to communicate with customers.

This has quickly begun a debate in the country over social media as to whether these firms are justified in their demands, or if these policies are simply an archaic holdover from days gone by. Some pointed out that these regulations are discriminatory in nature, not holding men and women to the same standards.

Different companies in different sectors have given their own reasons for expecting certain uniforms of their employees, citing things from basic health and safety to being able to recognise figures of authority.

With this in mind, we decided to take to the streets of Cardiff and ask people whether they thought dress codes here in the UK needed to be stricter.

Tom, 35, jeweller

“If it’s job appropriate then fine, but generally, as in every day, then no. I think that, depending on the association you work with or the people you work for, it’s good to adhere to that. But otherwise, if there’s no strict dress code, just dress appropriately.

Someone will approach you regardless, especially when you work in retail. If you appear to be working there, someone will approach you and talk to you. I don’t think people would be put off by what you’re wearing.”

Emma, 22, kitchen assistant

“I don’t think glasses should be an issue because people use them all the time. I’m amazed that that’s a thing. I think, with some restrictions, it’s valid. In terms of tattoos in the workplace, there’s some that you can have on show if it’s minimal. If it’s on your face, that’s fair enough.

The hijab? Perfect, nothing wrong with it. Maybe the whole face if you have a job where you have to do security, maybe like in a bank.

We have a really strict rule against wearing nail varnish and I think that’s unfair because I feel like you should express yourself. I don’t see how nails really affect how you work in terms of picking up and moving dishes around.”

Mark, 54, owner of a building company

“No, probably not. People should be allowed to wear what they want, as long as it’s sensible. As long as you dress appropriately, not too much flesh on show.

Depending on what you’re doing, obviously, safety boots and things like that. Hard hats in the right place if needed. So that’s common sense in my trade, to be honest.”

Simon, 60, cleansing operative

“Why should they? It’s a free country. Wear what you want. Freedom of speech, it’s supposed to be. In school, you wear a school uniform. I’m supposed to wear a uniform but I don’t.

Some jobs, yeah. Fire service, police, army, all that, yeah. But if you’re just doing menial work, wear what you’re comfortable in. People in authority, people want to look up and say ‘I can go there’. If someone’s in a bit of trouble, I can see a police officer, I can go and see them. If they’re not in uniform, I don’t know.

We wear hi-vis, steel cap boots, you don’t need hard hats working for the council. You’re more comfortable, you feel like you can do more. I’ve worked for the Council for 15 years and this is all I’ve worked in.

You’ll see a couple of other boys pushing these big trucks or pulling an electric cart round. You’ll see them in uniform, it’s their preference. My preference is that I work better like this without the uniform. People can see I work for the Council, I’ve got the logo on my back. That’s my uniform there.”

Maushumi, 58, self-employed

“No, I used to teach so the issue of uniform was always back and forth in terms of… You know, I worked in schools that didn’t have uniform. This was in the late eighties, early nineties.

Then all schools brought in uniform, my particular school brought in uniform for the office staff as well. There was quite a strict dress code for teachers. Male teachers and female teachers.

It became more corporate. I suppose schools stopped being schools and became businesses and I didn’t like that. We felt under pressure.

I guess that a uniform and any kind of dress code is a barrier to communication. I can understand that in the beauty industry and so on, looks are important and in order to sell what they’re trying to do. But in general, I would say no. I don’t think uniforms or any kind of code is necessary if you want to treat other people as adults.”

Charmaine, 28, resource manager

“No, the opposite. It should be relaxed. I think that you should feel comfortable in your workplace. It depends on your job, really.

You need to look smart to get a bit more respect, maybe, if you’re a manager. But if you’re in a factory or retail, I think you should be able to be… not too relaxed, but be comfortable – and in office work as well.

I think those companies that still cling to having suits in an office where you’re not customer-facing, I don’t think that support them. And I think production would be higher if they’re comfortable.”