HR Tip of the Week

Posted on  |  Workplace safety, Policies

Considerations for Costumes in the Workplace

Professional woman dressed in a cape and mask

Employers adopt dress codes to help maintain a professional and safe work environment. However, some choose to loosen rules on certain days of the week, holidays or times during the year. Here are some tips to help you ensure that employees' costumes are safe and respectful.

#1: Set expectations.

Set your company's dress code expectations well in advance. If you plan to allow costumes, communicate the dates and timeframes that the changes in attire will be permitted and remind employees that their outfits must meet the guidelines of your current dress code.

#2: Be inclusive.

Some people choose not to celebrate holidays or events for religious or other personal reasons. Respect their decision, and do not force them to dress up or criticize them for not participating in the festivities.

#3: Be respectful and sensitive to all protected classes.

Help your employees maintain an environment of respect by providing them with guidelines on how to avoid discriminatory attire and examples of prohibited outfits. Advise employees to consider the following questions before wearing their costumes to work:

  • Does my costume represent a culture of which I am not a member?
  • Does my costume promote stereotypes?
  • Does my costume have the potential to show a lack of respect for a culture's traditions and practices?

If the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then they shouldn't wear the costume to work. Also, consider prohibiting costumes that mock or imitate other employees, contain foul language, or are crude or revealing.

#4: Prioritize safety.

For certain jobs, it may not be safe for employees to wear costumes at work. If costumes are permitted, consider safety guidelines that might apply to your working conditions such as:

  • Protective gear (if applicable) must remain functional
  • No garments that could catch on machines
  • No-open toed shoes
  • No masks that could impede their vision, including their peripheral vision

#5: Prohibit weapons.

Don't allow employees to bring in prop weapons, such as plastic swords, as part of their costume. Use this opportunity to remind employees of your strict stance against workplace violence and intimidation.

#6: Be practical.

If employees want to celebrate an event, but full costumes are not feasible, consider:

  • Toned down accessories or apparel such as hats, scarves, or t-shirts.
  • Themed potluck or treats
  • Desk, door, cube or office decorations


Make sure your dress codes comply with all applicable laws and promote workplace safety, diversity and inclusion. Communicate your expectations in advance to ensure safe, respectful and festive celebrations in the workplace.

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