Dress codes in the office

February 1, 2006

While many small- or medium-sized physicians' offices are not likely to have a dress code in place, experts suggest that they get one.

While many small- or medium-sized physicians' offices are not likely to have a dress code in place, experts suggest that they get one. Without it, you risk damaging your practice's image-a problem that could take a long time to repair, according to American Medical News (12/19/05).

When creating a formal dress code for your office, first consider what clothing should be allowed or forbidden. You may, for example, want to distinguish clinical staff from each other and from office staff by requiring different modes of dress for each. For example, physicians may be required to wear lab coats and nurses would wear whites. You may also require office staff who deal directly with patients to dress more carefully than those who have little contact with the public. You may want to ban distracting clothing or accessories-such as low-cut tops, T-shirts with messages, or body piercing.

Once you decide what kind of dress code you want in place, make sure that you haven't created a discriminatory policy that could get you into legal hot water. Recognize that Americans are protected by law from discrimination based on sex, race, national origin, age, religion, disability, or health history. If an employee wears certain attire required by his or her religion, for example, you may not be able to forbid it.