1. Introduction

The physical appearance of staff is key for a number of reasons, including:

  • individual professional image;
  • professional image of the service;
  • health and safety.

Physical appearance includes clothing and shoes, hair, makeup, jewellery cleanliness and personal hygiene.

Staff appearance should inspire public confidence and promote a positive and professional image.

Identification / name badges should be carried or worn by staff at all times, to be produced to prove identity if required. Name badges should not be worn on lanyards around the neck, for health and safety reasons.

2. Appropriate Clothing

Clothing should be appropriate to the nature of the work undertaken by individual members of staff.

Staff should give consideration to their personal appearance to ensure it could not cause offence to adults, their family and friends or other professionals, whether deliberately or incidentally. Clothing should be modest, non-offensive and contain no provocative, sexist, political, homophobic or racist remarks. Clothing should not display slogans or logos relating to drugs, alcohol or tobacco, or demonstrate sponsorship of such products. It is not acceptable to wear clothing that over exposes parts of the body, for example stomach, chest, thighs, etc, or that is in any way transparent.

All staff should wear footwear that is safe and suitable for the duties they may be required to undertake.

Staff should be informed at induction about suitable clothing required for their specific post. This should include information about whether uniforms will be provided. Staff should seek guidance from their line manager should they have any queries about suitable clothing and appearance.

If a line manager has any concerns about the appearance of a member of staff, this should be addressed through the supervision process (see Supervision).

3. Health and Safety

For staff involved in manual handling tasks or providing personal care to adults should ensure that their clothing and footwear are comfortable and safe. Clothing should allow unrestricted movement. Footwear should be flat, enclosed and with a firm sole grip to avoid the possibility of slipping.

Staff working in environments where clothing may become soiled or damaged should have a set of spare clothing at work. Alternatively managers should arrange for spare items of clothing to be available for emergency use.

Where required for specific roles, protective clothing should always be available and be worn in accordance with the relevant health and safety procedures.

Long sleeved clothing such as cardigans or sweaters must be removed, or at least sleeves rolled up, before the delivering personal care to adults. As well as having the potential for getting wet, sleeves may act as a vehicle for transmitting infection and can also obstruct proper handwashing techniques.

Staff who have long hair should ensure it is tied back whilst delivering personal care, working in food preparation, with machinery or any other relevant jobs.

Staff delivering personal care should ensure their nails are kept clean and of a length that will not potentially scratch someone else. False nails or chipped nail varnish can harbour micro-organisms and therefore reduce compliance with hand hygiene.

Wearing jewellery may be hazardous, for example necklaces or chains, large earrings in pierced ears or other body jewellery, particularly for staff who are delivering personal care to adults. A risk assessment of such jewellery may need to be undertaken and as a consequence staff may be asked not to wear particular items whilst at work.

Whilst individual staff members are responsible for ensuring their clothing and appearance is fit for purpose, the service is also responsible under health and safety legislation for staff safety whilst at work. In certain situations, this may require managers making a final decision regarding the suitability of clothing and footwear. This may need to be addressed as part of the supervision process with particular members of staff (see Supervision).