Having an effective and fit for purpose dress code policy in your nursery has never been more important. This is in light of the fact there has been recent dress code controversy in the news over a Primary School teacher who posted photos of herself after winning ‘The Educator of the Month’ accolade. The photos quickly went viral, however this wasn’t due to her being recognised for her educational prowess, rather what she was wearing in the photos she had posted.


Her attire has been described as ‘figure hugging’ and particularly distracting for a classroom setting. This is one example of when dress code has been a hot media topic.

Dress code is often a heated area of discussion within work places and with the added fuel of social media it can become a subject of opinion and high contention.  Another factor to be mindful of is whether imposing a certain dress code could be seen as discriminating against certain groups of employees.

For example in 2013 British Airways was found by the European Court of Human Rights to have discriminated against a Christian employee when she was prohibited from wearing a discreet cross whilst at work. Therefore where there is less favourable treatment of a protected group of employees, there remains to be a risk of discrimination.

So just how do you ensure that your nursery operates an effective dress code policy and doesn’t potentially fall foul of being deemed as discriminatory in nature?

  1. The first point of consideration should always be the context of the dress code policy you are looking to implement. What I mean by this is consider for example the environment your employees work in. The majority of your workforce will require practical clothing, which allows them to be comfortable at work as they are performing active roles, playing with and caring for children.
  2. Wearing pieces of jewellery should also be factored in as loose pieces of additional attire such as bracelets and necklaces could potentially be choking hazards for young children.
  3. The impression that your workforce presents to the general public, such as parents your employees come into contact with every day and even Ofsted during inspections is of vital importance. Giving a professional image, and providing a dress code policy which fits with your nursery will be positive for your setting and the staff who work in it.
  4. Although it will always be important to provide some guidance on what is deemed as appropriate as a dress code amongst employees in your setting, there must also be a balance struck between this and individuality. For example by emphasizing the importance to employees that wearing practical, smart looking workwear is essential but then leaving it for your staff to decide what to wear, providing this falls within the guidance could work really well. Alternatively you may wish to provide polo-shirts for your employees, which have your nursery’s company logo embroidered on them for uniformity and marketing reasons but still leave it for the employee to decide what type of trousers, for example, they wish to wear.

It is unlikely that the topic of dress code will ever be straight forward and will inevitably involve some grey areas. But principally if you are always mindful of the different types of employees you may have working for you, and recognise their individuality when introducing a dress code policy for your nursery you should avoid some key pitfalls.

It is also recommended that you continuously review your dress code policy and update it to reflect your nursery and your employee’s dress code requirements. This will help to make it an inclusive and relevant policy, and therefore less likely to be regarded as negative or discriminatory.

I hope you have found this blog useful and as always if you require any support in this area then please get in touch with us.

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Donna Fairbrother


The Nursery HR People



01509 833121

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