Model Dress Code for Nonprofits

Following is sample language to use in your organization's dress code:

While work attire is casual at our organization, all employees should maintain appropriate standards of neat and professional dress and grooming. The key point in determining what is appropriate work attire is the use of common sense and good judgment, applying a dress practice that our organization deems conducive to our work environment. If you question the appropriateness of a certain piece of attire, it probably isn't appropriate. Requests for advice and assistance in administrating or interpreting this guideline should be directed to the Human Resources Director.

While employees may wear casual clothes, attire that should not be worn includes:

  • Clothing that does not fit correctly: too tight or too loose.
  • Clothing that is faded, stained, discolored, torn, patched, ripped, or frayed.
  • Clothing with missing buttons.
  • Sandals, thongs, flip-flops, or similar footgear.
  • Shorts, halter tops, gym, athletic, or sweat clothes.
  • Clothing with offensive slogans or pictures, e.g., profanity and nude or seminude pictures, offensive gestures, suggestive cartoons.
  • Clothing with political slogans, derogatory words, gang colors, or advertisements for competitive products or services.
  • Undergarments worn over regular clothing

In addition, we ask that there be no visible piercings, except for earrings, and no visible tattoos.

The management team is responsible for monitoring and enforcing this policy. The policy will be administered in the following manner:

1. If questionable attire is worn in the office, the respective supervisor/manager will hold a personal, private discussion with the employee to advise and counsel the employee regarding the inappropriateness of the attire.

2. If attire deemed unacceptable (if questionable attire is worn a second time after a discussion where it was deemed unacceptable) is worn in the office, the supervisor/manager will hold a private discussion with the employee and ask the employee to go home and change his/her attire immediately.

3. Repeated policy violations will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

We will make every effort to accommodate employees' religious or national customs that affect the way they dress in the workplace. Each request will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

See also: Tattoos and Piercings

Pamela Fyfe is an HR attorney with the Nonprofit Insurance Alliance Group, where she advises members on a wide variety of HR issues. To submit a question for a future Ask Rita in HR column, click here.

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