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Appendix C: Sample gender-neutral dress code policy

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These are examples of gender-neutral dress code descriptions based on dress codes already in use in Ontario restaurants, including a wide range of styles and degrees of formality. Note: all positions should include a pants option.

Below each option they may wish to include, companies can set out guidelines, such as colour, source, style, fabric type and/or pattern, and how the item is to be worn (such as options to roll sleeve or pant cuffs, limitations on skirt or shorts length, any seasonal limitations on wearing the item, etc.).

Servers, hosts, bartenders and/or managers:


Option 1: button-up clean pressed shirt, tucked in

Option 2: untucked clean pressed dress shirt or blouse with tailored hem 

Option 3: dressy top/sweater

Option 4: dress 

Optional top layers:

Option 1: vest (with tucked in dress shirt)

Option 2: sport jacket or blazer

Option 3: cardigan, sweater or jacket


Option 1: flat-front pants and/or jeans

Option 2: black skirt (for example, “no more than 1½ inches above the knee”)


Option 1: socks

Option 2: (with skirt or dress) optional tights, stockings or socks


Front-of-house staff:

Tops: short or long-sleeved company brand shirts


Option 1: black pants/indigo denim jeans, etc.

Option 2: black dress shorts (in summer)

Option 3: company kilt with kilt pin, with socks/hose/tights


  • Dress shoes, black, polished, leather finish, with a non-slip sole. Shoe must cover toe and heel of foot
  • Black dress shoes, minimum ½-inch sole. Must have defined heel. No square toes or overly pointed toes, no poorly maintained shoes
  • Can specify; for example, “If there is a heel it may be no more than 2.5 inches.”


Belts may/must be worn with pants (can specify…)

  • Colour and material (plain, not decorative, no logos, etc.)
  • Buckle guidelines (colour, not decorative, simple, no “bling,” etc.)

Jewelry (state it is optional)

  • Can set out guidelines or recommendations relating to style, colour, size or number of pieces
  • Mention exceptions, such as for wedding rings, or medic-alert bracelets, and any accommodation requests

Hair accessories (state they are optional) can specify…

  • They can be decorative (some companies say “express yourself”) or
  • Must be unobtrusive in size and colour (for example, could say accessories “should be neutral colours,” “similar to hair colour,” “silver or gold,” in “company colours,” etc.)


  • Hair must be clean and tidy; could add…
    • hair (or majority of hair) should be in natural range of shades, rather than bright colours (“such as…”)
    • longer hair (such as “below shoulder length”) is to be held back for sanitary reasons
    • see Accessories section re: hair accessories
  • Fingernails: clean and well-manicured
    • if nail polish is worn, it should not be chipped
    • can add, statements like “in neutral shades” or “in the following colours…”, or “no extreme colours” (such as…)
  • Makeup (state it is optional)
    • if makeup is worn, it should be… (for example, “daytime style,” “not heavy or deep in colour,” “light and blend in with your natural colouring,” etc.)

Accommodation and complaints

  • May want to start by affirming the company’s commitment to human rights, employment, health and safety and other relevant legislation
  • Anyone with a concern about the workplace, including discrimination or harassment, or who needs accommodation relating to the dress code or other issues, can address it in the following ways, such as
    • bringing issue to shift manager, site manager, owner/franchisee
    • if that is unsuccessful or not possible, bringing issue to human resources or head office
  • Provide relevant contact information
  • For more information, see the OHRC guide Human rights at work

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