Dress Code/Grooming Standards

DEPT: Employee Relations


Cottage Health System (CHS) strives to provide the highest possible level of patient satisfaction and visitor/customer service. The Dress Code policy supports that goal and requires that all employees dress and groom themselves in a manner that reflects a professional healthcare environment and is appropriate for the position and responsibilities performed, and recognizes the individuality of employees.


The professional atmosphere of CHS is maintained, in part, by the image that employees present to patients and the public. Employees will therefore utilize good taste and professional judgment in determining their dress and appearance. Attire must meet the necessary safety and infection control requirements of the employee’s particular work area(s). Any time attire is reported to be a distraction for our patients, visitors, co-workers or Medical Staff, the Department Director/Manager will assess the attire for compliance with the goals of this policy. Employees who report to work inappropriately dressed will be sent home, without pay, and directed to return to work in proper attire.


Standards of dress and personal appearance are to be followed by all staff while on duty. These guidelines apply when the employee is attending on or off-campus meetings/seminars, officially representing the organization. These standards do not apply when an employee is invited to attend a meeting on their day off. Please refer to the section titled “On-site meeting attire for employees attending meetings on their day off”.

Name Badges

Name badges provided by CHS must be worn at all times, above the waist and readily visible. Name badges may not be defaced with stickers, pins, or altered in any way to change the information on the badge.

General / Personal Hygiene

Specific expectations include but are not limited to:

  • Employees are to report to work clean and to assure that they appropriately use deodorant.
  • No fragrances in patient care areas and avoid use of excessive perfume, cologne, aftershave, fragrances in non-patient care settings.
  • The odor of any kind of smoke about one’s person is not acceptable.
  • Employees shall have neatly combed and clean hair. Extreme hairstyles or hair colors are not acceptable.
  • In patient care areas, hair is to be short or pulled back and secured.
  • Beards, mustaches, and sideburns are to be neatly trimmed and groomed.
  • Nails are to be kept neat in appearance and clean. Nail length should not be excessive. Nail length and color should not serve as a distraction to others. Employees and other staff who perform direct patient care are prohibited from wearing artificial fingernails and/or other extenders, in compliance with Infection Control policies. 
  • Make-up must not be excessive and should not be a distraction to others.
  • Jewelry must be discreet, tasteful, provide no risk to the wearer or patients.
  • Visible face and/or body jewelry (outside of traditional ear piercings) are not permitted while on duty (i.e. nose, lips, eyebrow, or tongue jewelry are not permitted).
  • Tattoos may not be visible and must be covered while at work or on work premises.
  • All clothing should be clean, fit properly, be in good repair, and pressed or ironed as needed.
  • Clothing should not be tight fitting. Appropriate undergarments must be worn to avoid an unprofessional appearance and should not be visible.
  • Capri pants are allowable as long as they are in a component of professional, business attire with a jacket and are mid-calf in length.
  • Headgear (caps, bandanas, etc.) that is not part of an approved uniform is not permitted in patient care or other areas where public contact may occur. Employees undergoing certain medical procedures may request an accommodation by contacting the Employee Relations Department.
  • The following are examples of unacceptable attire in any position or location. It is important to note that this is not intended to be an exhaustive list, merely one to illustrate what attire is clearly unacceptable:
  • Bare midriffs
  • Beach sandals and flip-flops
  • Blue jeans (please refer to “On-Site Meeting Attire” section below for additional information)
  • Casual capri pants
  • Leggings, stirrup pants, spandex pants that are worn without a covering dress
  • Low-cut blouses, shirts, or tops
  • Miniskirts, skirts and or dresses with high slits
  • See-through garments 
  • Shorts
  • Sleeveless shirts/spaghetti-strap blouses or dresses without a jacket or sweater
  • Strapless, halters, backless or tube tops, 
  • T-shirts, other shirts with advertising logos or logos promoting offensive messages, violence, cigarettes, alcohol, and/or drugs
  • Sweatshirts and sweatpantss
  • Employees with no direct patient care / public contact are expected to wear standard business attire.
  • For women, dresses, skirts or slacks, a shirt, blouse, shell with sleeves, sweaters and turtlenecks are acceptable. Sleeveless shirts or blouse must be worn under a jacket or sweater.
  • For men, a collared shirt, button-down or turtleneck worn with ankle length style pants are recommended.
  • Polo-type shirts with collars are acceptable in designated areas or positions, including the Cottage Health System Business Services building.
  • Employees with direct patient care contact
  • Employees and staff required wear uniform or scrub clothing provided by CHS will be issued garments to wear only at work.
  • Employees and staff wearing uniforms and scrubs purchased at their own expense must conform to a color and style appropriate to their department specific dress code.
  • No scrubs or uniforms from other facilities are allowed.
  • Footwear
  • Shoes must be safe and appropriate for the type and location of work performed as determined by the department director / manager in collaboration with Employee Health and Safety. Shoes need to be clean and not worn out in appearance. 

On-site meeting attire for employees on their day off

In the event that an employee is invited to attend a meeting on their day off, the following dress code and grooming standards will apply:

  • Employees are to report to their meeting clean and well groomed.
  • Clothing should be clean and well maintained. Torn, stained, paint spattered or bleach marked clothing may not be worn.
  • Blue jeans are acceptable as long as they are in good repair, with no holes or tears.
  • Beach attire (including footwear) of any kind is not acceptable.
  • Name badges are to be worn and visible.


Employees who need accommodation due to medical/health, religious or cultural reasons must consult with their Employee Relations Consultant to ensure the request for accommodation is processed and approved.


Employees are expected to adhere to the dress code policy and to bring violations to the attention of the individual or their department manager. Adherence to the Dress Code will be included in the annual performance appraisal process.

Department-specific dress codes

Departments may establish a dress code more stringent than the CHS dress code stated below. All department dress codes must be in writing, uniformly enforced within the department, and made available to all department personnel. All department dress codes will be reviewed and approved by the Human Resources Department and the vice president for that UDS or department. Casual-dress days are not allowed, unless authorized by the respective director / manager and vice president for rare circumstances, such as for departmental moves. If a specific department does not have a dress code, employees of that department are expected to abide by this policy.


  • The dress code policy must be written in the CHS policy format.
  • Unit/Department/Service (U/D/S) counsel will develop the policy.
  • If no U/D/S, workgroup should contain representatives from each job category within the department.
  • The dress code is given to manager for approval, then back to the U/D/S or work group for confirmation.
  • The dress code is sent to Human Resources for review.
  • Human Resources will identify consistent and inconsistent guidelines with the CHS system wide dress code.
  • Human Resources will provide written analysis/recommendations
  • Area vice president and Vice President, Human Resources will meet to confer, and approve
  • If no approval/consensus by vice president is agreed upon, the operations group will evaluate and render decision
  • Required consults / approvals
  • Management
  • Human Resources
  • Medical staff (if applicable)
  • Operations (if area vice president and Vice President, Human Resources deem necessary)
  • Communication to staff
  • Department specific dress codes will be posted on Employee Portal in Human Resources section once approved
  • The department specific dress codes will be presented by Management/UDS at a Staff Meeting
  • Staff receives copy and signs acknowledging receipt to go into personnel/department file.


RECOMMENDED BY: Diana Lovan DATE: 8/12
DATE REVISED: 5/06, 5/07, 5/09, 12/11, 11/12
DATE REVIEWED: 12/93, 3/97, 3/99, 3/01, 9/02, 3/03, 12/08, 12/11