Summer Heat Challenges Workplace Dress Codes

By Sally Weldin, Sr. Human Resource Specialist
Published July 9, 2019

people walking across street summer weatherAs summer progresses and the weather alternates between windy, wet, and sweltering, the temperature influences what employees interpret as acceptable workplace attire. When temperatures rise, so do hemlines and shirt sleeves. Flip flops, shorts, tank tops, sundresses, and workout attire appear. Dresses and skirts may have lower scooped necks or high slits. 

While workplaces and dress codes have relaxed a lot in the last two decades, rising temperatures may signal an opportunity to review your dress code to ensure that it clearly outlines your organization’s expectations. If your policy is outdated, employees may pay little attention to it. If your policy is unclear or loosely followed, employees may creatively interpret it.

Dress code policies vary widely by industry type. Employees who work in places of business which serve the public may have to dress much more conservatively than those that do not, even on designated casual days. Workplaces with safety concerns have the right to tell employees of either gender that legs, arms, chest, and feet must be covered. Outdoor workplaces have different concerns for exposure than indoor facilities. 

Regardless of the nature of your business, it is important to clearly inform your employees what is and what is not acceptable dress for the workplace. Consider reviewing and updating your policy and reminding your employees of your organization’s expectations for the summer months. Then, reinforce those expectations by tactfully addressing dress code violations when they occur.

HR Source members facing workplace dress code challenges can call or email us for a sample dress code policy. Reach us at 800-448-4584 or

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