An Employer's Guide to Workwear

6 Minute Read

Workwear is a word that often conjures images of crisp button-downs and starched collars. And while uniforms in particular might seem somewhat superficial at first glance, you’ll find there is often a lot of significance woven into each thread.

Although the world of work quickly changes and uniforms adapt to new styles (many of which now lean toward more casual attire), the power of a carefully considered and implemented uniform can’t be disputed. They can become a tool for shaping and elevating your workplace, impacting everything from brand identity and employee morale, all the way to safety and even customer perception.

This guide will walk you through all you need to know with workwear, discussing not just the “what”, but also the “why”. We’ll go over the myriad of benefits that workwear can offer, delve into the legal considerations and crafting effective policies, and explore the art of designing uniforms that resonate with both your team and your customer base.

Why Uniform is Important:

Why should you invest in workwear? It has far-reaching potential that can impact your business in many ways:

  • Reinforce Brand Identity and Professionalism: Uniforms can become a tangible expression of your brand, visually communicating your values and solidifying a professional image for your company and its employees. All whilst showcasing your logo or branding to your team and customers.
  • Enhance Safety and Compliance: In environments where safety is paramount, properly designed uniforms can play an important role in protecting your team and ensuring compliance with regulations. Workwear can even be designed to support and complement additional PPE or safety wear for additional protection.
  • Foster Teamwork and Belonging: Shared attire can foster a sense of unity and team spirit, helping your team to forge stronger connections and promote a collaborative environment.
  • Boost Employee Wellbeing: Having well-designed and fitting workwear can help teams feel confident and well-presented whilst at work, helping to positively impact their morale and leading to increased engagement and pride in their role, ultimately resulting in a happier workforce with less turnover and higher satisfaction.
  • Improve Customer Perception and Trust: Uniforms can enhance customer confidence by signifying professionalism and presenting a consistent, identifiable face for your company. In workplaces with teams operating within different functions, it can also help customers identify the specific role a member of staff may be assigned to.

The Importance of Wearing PPE:

Whilst not applicable to every business, there are many industries and sectors which have strict rules regarding PPE clothing and equipment in the workplace, and for good reason. These environments are often littered with hazards and your team must be protected from these to ensure both their safety and the safety of your business.

Typically, when thinking of personal protective equipment (PPE), high-visibility jackets and hard hats may be your first thought, but PPE comes in many more shapes and sizes. Hair nets, rubber gloves and face masks are all PPE too. If a piece of clothing or equipment is designed to protect you from a hazard, no matter the severity, then it should be considered PPE.

Before you start calling us to purchase every single piece of PPE we offer, you should consider the actual risks at hand and think about what PPE, if any at all, is necessary for your business. Consider the following:

  • Risk Assessments: Carry out risk assessments across all functions within your business and measure the risk of injury against the protection that PPE can offer, there may be areas that require PPE by law.
  • PPE Quality: If PPE is needed for your business, you should consider the quality of the items needed. While lower quality items may be cheaper, they can result in higher costs through frequent replacement of substandard equipment.
  • Legal Requirements: There are laws and regulations in place that dictate the PPE that should be used in different environments concerning different risks.

If PPE is needed within your workplace then you, your team, and any visitors must be wearing the required PPE when in hazardous areas. Without adequate protection, you risk the safety of personnel, as well as serious legal issues that would affect you and your business.

Navigating Legal Considerations:

Before implementing workwear, it’s crucial to be aware of relevant legal requirements and ensure your policies are inclusive and fair. Key areas to consider include:

  • Non-discrimination and Inclusivity: Your workwear policies must respect employee diversity and avoid any discriminatory practices based on protected characteristics. It would also be beneficial to consider any adjustments for those with disabilities or cultural/religious needs to ensure your uniform is inclusive to all.
  • Consider NMW Laws: You do not have a legal obligation to pay for your team’s uniform, however, if the deduction of uniform costs from their salary would result in their remaining salary being equivalent to less than NMW for the hours worked, you would be breaking the law. Consider providing uniforms for free, or giving your team an allowance towards costs. This does not apply to PPE, which must be provided if risk assessments deem them necessary.
  • Compliance with Safety Regulations: Some industries have specific safety needs and your uniform must comply with the relevant regulations, provide adequate protection for your team and must not interfere with other safety clothing/equipment that would be worn.

Crafting a Clear Uniform Policy

A well-defined policy sets the foundation for successful workwear implementation. This policy should clearly outline:

  • Specific Uniform Requirements: Define the types of garments, accessories, and footwear permitted and prohibited.
  • Appearance Standards: Address matters like hairstyles, makeup, and jewellery, balancing professionalism with individual expression.
  • Maintenance Procedures: Guide your team on proper care and cleaning of their uniforms.
  • Replacement Guidelines: Establish protocols for replacing damaged or worn-out uniforms.
  • Disciplinary Measures: Outline consequences for non-compliance within the policy.

Designing Effective Uniforms:

Workwear should be more than just visually appealing; it should be functional, comfortable, and aligned with your brand. Here are the key factors to consider:

  • Functionality: Choose garments suitable for the specific tasks and environment your employees face.
  • Comfort: Prioritise comfort to ensure employee well-being and productivity. Consider factors like fabric breathability, fit, and movement range.
  • Brand Alignment: Select colours, styles, and materials that reflect your brand identity and values.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: Be mindful of cultural considerations when designing and choosing styles that are respectful and appropriate.
  • Durability: Invest in high-quality materials and construction to ensure lasting value and reduce replacement costs.
  • Team Preferences: Consider talking to your staff to take feedback and suggestions on what they think the uniform should look like. This could help them feel greater satisfaction in their work if they have contributed to the creation of the uniform.

For bespoke uniforms created entirely for your business, our sister company, Incorporatewear, can help with this. They’ve been designing entirely custom uniform ranges for decades and have worked with countless businesses in a range of industries. Getting to know your brand and your business, they can help you develop functional, comfortable, and outstanding uniforms.

Maintaining and Replacing Uniforms:

To keep your workwear looking professional and functioning optimally, implementing effective maintenance and replacement policies is crucial. Make sure to cover:

  • Cleaning and Laundering Procedures: Provide effective guidance on the proper care methods for different fabric types and individual garments. Make this guidance easily accessible to your team, either through a brochure, signs posted in various areas, or in the tags on individual items.
  • Repair Guidelines: Establish protocols and guidelines for handling minor tears, rips, or other damage and when they should be returned for repair or replacement. Inform teams of any scenarios in which they would have to pay for repairs, such as negligence or deliberate damage.
  • Replacement Policies: Determine when uniforms need to be replaced due to wear and tear or changes in size. Determine when uniforms need to be replaced due to wear and tear, or when a different size is needed. Keep teams informed of any circumstances in which they would have to pay for replacements.
  • Sustainable Practices: Explore eco-friendly options for cleaning, repairing, and disposing of uniforms. Not only will this help you reduce the impact your business has on the environment, but can also help you to reduce costs by using less energy, water, and other resources.

Empowering Workplace Culture With DCC:

Workwear can have a profound impact on your business, from the internal culture benefits to the impact it has on customer interaction and satisfaction, the benefits can be significant.

As trusted Uniform & PPE suppliers, we can help you throughout the entire process, whether you need support with:

  • Supply of standard-issue uniforms with or without branding
  • Fully bespoke and designed uniform ranges (through Incorporatewear)
  • Set up of an easy-to-use online ordering portal
  • Uniform range brochures
  • Advice on workwear best practices

Get in contact with us today to see how a well-polished uniform can have a significant impact on your business.