A Medical Certificate Instead of a Tie!

I had to dish out some fairly unexpected advice this week that I thought I’d share, it had all of us laughing and debating a rather interesting point.

I have a very successful client who owns an Estate Agent and as most of his staff are client-facing, the dress-code in his workplace is ‘business smart’. However, one of his male members of staff was refusing to wear a tie, as they give him migraines. As he produced a doctor’s note to confirm this, my client was at a bit of a loss as to what to do.

The Research

Despite the medical note, I decided I needed to do some research myself, and there are some studies that show that neck-ties can cause tension and pain in the neck and head: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970204909104577235313412770808

I also discovered the obligatory celeb who supports this idea.

And those who believe that wearing a tie is a cure for migraines (tie it tight around your head)!

Anyway, apparently 67% of men buy shirts that are too small for their necks which can in turn reduce circulation to the brain, or result in muscle tension in the back and shoulders – so it may not be the tie at all:)

Back to our client

Our objective: to find a solution that would work for both the employee – no migraines and the employer – a smart employee

Our advice:

  • Ensure your employee understands why you have a dress code
  • Discuss some options to reduce the tightness around the neck, without removing the tie
    • loosen the tie
    • wear a bigger collar size
    • Undo the top button of the shirt
    • try clip-on ties
  • Ensure that you are clear about the implications if they continue to refuse to wear a tie

In most cases, reaching a compromise that both you and your staff are happy with is a far more desirable outcome than taking any further action.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind when creating a dress code policy in your workplace:

  • Be practical and safe – Take into account what your staff are doing on a daily basis, who will they meet? Are they going to be travelling? Will they lift anything heavy?
  • Beconsistentwith your dress code- A lot of the discrimination claims that arise out of dress codes really arise out of their inconsistent application.
  • Make sure you consider all the racial, gender and religious implications of your dress code.
  • Make your code clear – ensure there’s a policy that staff can easily access (via a handbook or their manager) to find out what is expected of them.
  • Get some advice to make sure you’re prepared.



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