Flip-Flops in the Office? How to Handle Summer Dress Code Issues

iStock_000011580035XSmallSummertime is here again, and temps are heating up. As the temperature rises, businesses could see a wave of beach attire like flip-flops and snug tops make their way into the office. The heat and an overly relaxed wardrobe could have some employees swimming in a sea of vacation and summer-fun daydreams that could affect productivity at work. If your employee’s workplace summer attire starts looking more like a day at the beach than a day at the office, it may be time to re-enforce your dress code.

Before your company’s casual Fridays turn into beach-bum weekdays, here are some typical workplace attire issues you may face in the summer and tips to address them.

If the shoe doesn’t fit.
Flip-flops are a beach must, but their casual appearance makes them an office don’t. Unless your office is poolside like a lifeguard’s, flip-flops are generally not appropriate to wear to work. Their tendency for slips, spills, and falls also make them a workplace safety hazard. And, businesses that operate equipment and heavy machinery should be particularly wary of allowing any employee to wear flip-flops – or other open-toed shoes like sandals – to work.

If an employee walks into work with flip-flops on, breaking company dress code, request that they return home and change into safer and more fitting shoes. With the different styles and types of flip-flops, it can be tricky to distinguish some, but just remember to be consistent and stick to your no-flip-flop policy with every employee.

The mystery of the Bermuda shorts – and other shockingly bad wardrobe choices.
In the summertime, some employees may interpret casual days to mean anything goes. So, they show up to work in their favorite short shorts, tank tops, or vacation T-shirts with inappropriate slogans and sayings. Or worse, some may come to work with their bathing suits underneath their clothing.

If an employee’s attire isn’t appropriate for work and the offense is obvious, consider sending the employee home to change. Otherwise, pull the offending employee aside to explain the dilemma and request that they not wear that type of clothing in the future.

The short of it.
Hemlines have moved up and down from year to year with the changes in women’s fashion, but in the summertime, women – and sometimes men – are more likely to wear tighter and shorter clothing. Revealing clothing is not suitable for business settings. It may be uncomfortable, but when an employee wears clothing that is not in line with company policy, it should be addressed.

Dealing with wardrobe issues at work can be difficult, but by establishing a precedent that employee attire must adhere to your stated policy standards no matter what the heat index, you will prevent future issues from arising. So, make sure you communicate and enforce your company’s policy with your entire team in the summertime and all year round.

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7 Responses to Flip-Flops in the Office? How to Handle Summer Dress Code Issues

  1. Gru July 30, 2011 at 9:18 am #

    Ah, “enforce the dress code” – what a great way to belittle employees and make them feel like they’re a cog in a machine. How dare someone be comfortable at work on a Friday when it’s 105F outside!

    Dealing with wardrobe issues at work shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s the mindset of corporate American management that makes this difficult. Our European counterparts do not have these issues.

    The bottom line should be whether or not the employee is doing a productive job, not what foot wear they have chosen for the day. American managers should start to focus on what really matters, not silly things like dress codes.

    My favorite dress code? (if there’s one at all) – common sense. Would you wear that outfit to church? To a school function with your children? Is it likely to be offensive? That should be about it. Wearing bermuda shorts is hardly a big problem. What’s wrong with looking relaxed and being comfortable?

    Oh, that’s right… it is one more psychological aspect of managerial control…

    • Claire August 2, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

      Flip flops are okay if you are in the Bahammas.. but really there are other factors, such as hygiene and safety which an employer is responsilbe for maintaining. In some workplaces that is very important. Clearly your relaxed environment has limited you to thinking we are all working in some Beatles song. At least lable your target audience is when spewing utopian diatribes against responsible employers. Claire

      • Emily August 16, 2011 at 1:44 pm #

        Relax Claire.
        I do believe that in some forms of business that the dress code may be more important, ie: legal firms, banks or client-facing customer service sales staff whose role is to drum up business or to schmooze potential clients or partners. However, I don’t believe this applies to probably 80% of the workforce. If I don’t have a client meeting, what’s wrong with coming to work in comfortable attire? I still achieve the same results day-to-day in less dressy clothing – underneath is still the same competent employee that was hired for my skills and knowledge base.
        I wouldn’t want a major client walking through the office dressed in a suit and tie to see someone sitting there in a golf shirt and bermuda shorts and sandals. But this can be avoided by alerting staff to these potential meetings in advance – and letting them know that a certain type of attire would be appropriate on that day.
        I say, Flip flop away, on the average day. Who cares??????

        • Rene' June 3, 2016 at 3:06 pm #

          Aside from commonly being worn as beach or shower shoes, to which their use should be restricted, flips-flops can be seen as a workplace hazard due to the tendency for slips, spills, and falls. Employers have a right to minimize such hazards as well as control how their employees represent them to the public while on their dime.

    • Nate Ru May 27, 2015 at 5:52 am #

      You ask “who cares”? How about all those other employees that have to listen to the flip-flopping walking around an office…like there is a horse loose. It’s incredibly distracting. Don’t think so? We had one person that wore them everyday. One day, we decided to have a ‘Flip Flop Day’ where everyone wore them…that put an end to allowing them at work. If a company is going to allow one person to wear them, they have to allow all employees to wear them.

  2. Debra August 16, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

    I believe that if it is offensive it should not be worn to work, period. I also beleive that if a coworker has made mention to you that it is offensive you should refrain.

  3. Rene' June 3, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

    Great article Brie!

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