HSE tells staff to dress 'modestly' or face dismissal
THE health service has defended a controversial dress code demanding modesty from staff who were showing too much skin.
The Health Service Executive said the guidelines were simply about respect "for self and the public we serve".
They were introduced in Limerick Regional, Croom Orthopaedic, Regional Maternity, Nenagh General, and Ennis General hospitals.
Female staff could face disciplinary action or even dismissal if their clothes are regarded as being too revealing.
There is a ban on short mini-skirts and low-cut T-shirts as well as backless tops or dress garments which reveal excessive cleavage or midriff.
Halter-neck tops, skin-tight clothing, micro-skirts and low-cut dresses are also deemed inappropriate.
Staff must remove artificial nails, nail jewellery, nail polish and hide any tattoos they have.
The proposed rules have drawn fire from the union IMPACT, which criticised the move as "over the top".
A HSE spokesman in the mid-west told the Irish Independent that the draft dress code was circulated to all of the trade unions on August 8, asking for feedback by August 20.
"Other unions responded, but not Impact, so the deadline was extended again to facilitate them.
"This second deadline was also missed. Impact eventually responded with their feedback last week and their comments are being reviewed."
He added: "The Mid Western Regional Hospitals Group believes employees should be professional in appearance and in attitude to their work at all times and should not place themselves or patients at risk in relation to health, safety, infection control or in any situation causing potential embarrassment."
He also said dress codes were commonplace in most large institutions and firms. The idea of formalising a code "is that all concerned clearly know what is acceptable and what is not".
But Andy Pike, the assistant general secretary of Impact, said that no agreement on adhering to the new code had yet been reached.
He said the guidelines went too far and instead of tackling particular staff they had a problem with, they were insisting all staff follow the rigid rules.
The hospitals in the region are facing a €30m deficit and the HSE would be better off spending its energy in tackling this, he said.
"There are better things for management to be doing. The union is waiting for a response to its submission," he added.