Friday 23 February 2018

Australian government department orders civil servants to stop turning up in 'onesies, ugg-boots and thongs'

Ugg Boots
Ugg Boots

Jonathan Pearlman in Sydney

An Australian government department has issued an official dress code to civil servants, ordering them to stop turning up in “onesies, ugg-boots and thongs”.

The immigration department, which typically makes headlines internationally for its role in detaining boat people in offshore detention centres, said it has issued a new dress code to its staff because they have been turning up in increasingly casual attire.

"There are certain things that wouldn't constitute professional business dress and that would be things like jeans, thongs [or flip-flops], ugg boots and so on," Jan Dorrington, a senior department official, told a parliamentary committee.

Asked whether staff actually turn up to work in ugg boots – the sheepskin footwear popular in Australia and New Zealand, and now, around the world – Ms Dorrington responded: "Ah, you'd be surprised.”

 Mike Pezzullo, the departmental secretary, said he was asked to rule on the appropriateness of “onesies” – or loose-fitting jumpsuits for adults – even though he had not previously been familiar with the term.

"At one point Ms Dorrington came to me with a number of matters that had arisen and I was asked to, if you like, rule or make a determination around something called the wearing of onesies," he said.

"I didn't even know what a onesie was and I was shown pictures of such garb."

Asked by an MP for a definition of the term, Mr Pezzullo responded: “I had to put it out of my head very quickly, senator.”

He added: "I guess in the old days you would have called it a boiler suit of some description."

Mr Pezzullo said the rules were not draconian but designed to encourage "basic professionalism".

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