How To Create A Dress Code Policy For Restaurant Employees

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Establishing a dress code policy for restaurant employees is essential in running a successful foodservice establishment. A dress code policy ensures that staff members create a great first impression on customers and are complying with food safety guidelines. In this informative guide, we provide you with all the details on how to create and implement a proper dress code policy at your foodservice establishment.

Why Is A Dress Code Policy Important For Restaurant Employees?

An employee dress code policy for your restaurant is a set of guidelines that informs staff members on the appropriate attire to wear at work. While implementing an employee dress code policy gives your business a professional look, it also provides your staff and customers with a number of benefits.

Food Safety And Hygiene

Believe it or not, creating a dress code for your restaurant provides you with a simple way to reduce foodborne illnesses. Dress code standards ensure that employees are wearing the proper uniform to prepare or serve dishes. For example, requiring employees to wear face masks helps prevent respiratory droplets from contaminating countertops, plates, utensils, and other surfaces. Enforcing strict dress code guidelines helps prevent cross-contamination and customers from getting sick.

Brand Awareness

Each staff member is a part of your brand and implementing an employee dress code allows them to represent your business the way you want it to be perceived. The first thing many guests notice when they walk into your establishment is what servers and hosts are wearing. Ensuring that employees are dressed nicely and similarly makes it easy for them to create a favorable first impression on customers.

Creates A Uniform Look

Creating a detailed staff dress code policy eliminates the guesswork on what is and isn’t appropriate to wear at work. An employee dress code also helps create a sense of camaraderie and equality between each team member. Your staff will stand out from customers which makes it easy for them to quickly distinguish patrons from other team members.

What To Include In Your Dress Code Policy For Restaurants Employees

Your staff spends long hours on their feet while working. When creating a dress code, you want employees to be comfortable, safe, and look presentable. Below are a number of guidelines to include in your dress code policy to guarantee that staff members are properly representing your brand.

Clothing For Back Of The House Employees

When creating a dress code policy for chefs and cooks, it’s important to implement strict guidelines to ensure their safety and prevent cross-contamination in your kitchen. Require kitchen staff to wear the following:

  • Chef coats: Cooks and chefs are constantly working with hot cookware and the thick fabric can help prevent boiling liquids or hot foods from causing serious injuries. Chef coats are typically white, making stains easy to identify to help uphold hygiene.
  • Chef trousers: Similar to the coat, chef trousers are thick and help protect the back of the house staff from high temperatures and boiling liquids. Trousers are also loose fitting to provide employees with a comfortable way to move and work in the kitchen.
  • Chef hats: While chef hats give chefs a sophisticated look, they are specially designed to prevent your kitchen staff’s hair and sweat from falling onto the food they’re handling. Your kitchen staff can also wear hairnets, baseball caps, or bandana-style head coverings.
  • Chef aprons: The apron prevents the chef’s coat from getting stains and provides kitchen staff with an extra layer of protection against spills. Many aprons also have pockets, providing chefs with a convenient location to store items.

Clothing For Front Of The House Employees

Waiters and servers aren’t prepping meals in the kitchen so there isn’t a need for them to wear a chef’s hat or coat. However, it’s still important to create a dress code policy for the front of the house employees to guarantee that they are all dressed similarly and wear proper attire to work. Include the following guidelines when creating a dress code policy for waiters and servers:

  • Colors: Depending on the type of restaurant you own or the logo of your business, you may want employees to wear certain colored shirts and pants. Inform staff members of what colors are appropriate to wear and if their clothing can have graphics.
  • Sleeves: Can waiters and servers wear tank tops or are they required to wear long-sleeve shirts? Make it clear on the types of shirts they are and aren’t allowed to wear.
  • Trousers: Depending on the type of restaurant you own, you may allow the front of the house staff to wear shorts or skirts. Decide on what you believe best suits your business and be specific when putting the dress code in writing. Include information on the exact length their shorts can be and the types of trousers they can wear.


The majority of restaurant owners don’t allow staff members to wear open-toed shoes or sneakers because they are a safety hazard. They may cause employees to slip when cleaning up spills in the kitchen or serving customers’ orders. That is why many dress code policies require all staff members to wear non-slip shoes.

Non-slip shoes are made with deeper tread grooves than traditional shoes. The deep grooves are designed to help prevent you from slipping and falling when walking on wet or greasy floors.


Many individuals wear bracelets, rings, necklaces, earrings, and other jewelry on a daily basis. However, it’s important for you to enforce regulations on the type of jewelry your staff can and cannot wear while working. For example, most restaurants don’t allow food handlers to wear rings or bracelets because jewelry can make it difficult for them to properly wash their hands. Jewelry is a major food contaminant and can be a choking hazard if a stone of a ring or bracelet accidentally falls into customers’ orders.

Before deciding on the type of jewelry your employees are allowed to wear, check with your local food safety legislation for guidelines. Each city has specific guidelines on the type of jewelry that can be worn when handling food.

Face Coverings

Face coverings are designed to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria from respiratory droplets. Requiring all restaurant employees to wear face masks proves to them that you care about their health. It also makes customers feel comfortable dining at your establishment because you are taking extra precautions to provide them with a safe dining experience.

Disposable Gloves

Disposable gloves provide a barrier between your employees’ bare hands and food. They are designed to minimize the spread of bacteria when handling ready-to-eat foods or raw meats. Inform employees that single-use gloves should be immediately changed before and after handling food to prevent cross-contamination in your kitchen.

How To Enforce Your Dress Code Policy

With your dress code now established, you need to notify staff members about the new policies in place. You can easily enforce your dress code policy following these steps.

1. Put The Dress Code Policy In Your Employee Handbook

The employee handbook is designed to inform staff members about your business and what is expected of them. Placing your dress code policy in the employee handbook makes it clear on what the proper attire for the workplace is and the consequences for violating the dress code.

When reviewing the employee handbook during new hire orientations or in team meetings, make sure to talk about the importance of following the dress code. This allows them to understand why there is a dress code policy in place and provides them with the perfect opportunity for you to answer any questions they may have.

2. Remind Employees Of The Dress Code

If you notice that a few employees aren’t obeying the dress code policy, talk to them privately. Ask if they realize that their attire violates the dress code without criticizing their clothing. Remind them of the policy that is in place and find a way to solve the dress code issue. For instance, if they are working with jewelry that isn’t permitted, simply have them remove it rather than sending them home. However, if there’s an issue with their clothing that cannot be fixed at work, inform them that they need to go change and come back with attire that follows the dress code.

3. Take Disciplinary Actions

When employees violate the dress code policy for a second time, document the violation and meet with them. Inform them of the violation and explain how the issue can be solved. If you notice that they continue to disobey the policy, conduct a one-on-one meeting to inform them of the disciplinary actions that you are forced to take.

Dress For Success!

By creating a dress code policy, employees can easily make a great first impression on customers and set your foodservice establishment up for success. Implementing a dress code at your foodservice establishment is essential to keeping your staff and customers safe. Requiring chefs to wear chef coats helps protect them from boiling liquids while having all staff members wear face coverings prevents the spread of harmful bacteria.

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