Posted on 10.11.16
News that England and Scotland footballers will defy FIFA and wear the poppy during their Armistice Day World Cup Qualifier shouldn’t be used as a green light for employees to wear what they want at work
“Although the players intention to honour Britain`s war dead at next Friday`s Wembley fixture is entirely understandable, employees should be careful not to see this as proof they can adapt work dress code anyway they like, ` warns employment lawyer Danielle Ayres of Gorvins Solicitors in Stockport.
Employers are allowed to tell their staff how to dress and as long as there is a good reason for such a code.
So whether it`s a hard hat for safety reasons, an apron for hygiene reasons or a uniform which reinforces a shop brand, it`s acceptable for employees to tell their staff what to wear.
“If you don`t comply then this could be regarded as a disciplinary offence”, explains Danielle. “A member of staff can argue with this and begin a grievance process . But if they lose their case there is a chance they could be dismissed.”
British Airways employee Nadia Eweida took her case to the ECHR after the airline made her stop wearing a white gold cross visibly.
The court ruled that Ms Eweida’s rights had been violated under Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights and that BA had not struck a fair balance between Ms Eweida’s religious beliefs and the company’s wish to “project a certain corporate image” There has been mounting public fury ever since FIFA imposed a ban on the poppy.
The world football`s governing body’s regulations prohibit political, religious or commercial messages on shirts. However the FA say the poppy does not fit any of those categories and will therefore flout the ban.
“The case involving FIFA is complicated because they are not, technically, the England and Scotland teams` bosses’, adds Danielle Ayres. “They are however a governing body who establish the rules of the game. But, understandably, the FA – and many fans and supporters – want to pay tribute to those members of the armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifice.”
“But these are very unique circumstances. In general terms UK employers can dismiss staff who fail to live up to reasonable dress code demands and equally staff can complain if they feel their bosses have pushed that code too far or are being discriminatory.”
Earlier this year 27-year-old receptionist Nicola Thorp ,working for a City firm in London, says she was sent home for refusing to wear high heels.
Adds Danielle: “As guidance for employees – and employers – about dress codes, the rule of thumb should be what effect that form of clothing would have on their capacity to do the job. So it would be ludicrous for someone on a building site to object to wearing a hard hat – since their safety could be compromised.”
“As far as the poppy is concerned, this is a national tribute to our war dead and the FA, the players and the entire country seem to be in agreement about wearing it out of respect for our fallen soldiers. But it mustn`t be used as a measure for employees to feel they can adapt their work dress in any way they want to.”