Overview: In many industries, good employee hygiene is not an option, it is a legal requirement. Everyone has seen the signs in restaurant bathrooms stating the necessity of employee hand washing, and this mandate is often one required by the state, not the restaurant itself. Still, even for those employers who have no laws requiring them to have hygienic employees, there are benefits to requiring it.
Poor employee hygiene can affect the productivity of the entire workforce. An employee who is unhygienic can make others feel uncomfortable or, in the case of a bad smelling employee, can make it hard to focus on the work at hand. In addition to productivity concerns, an unhygienic employee is a germ-risk, who is more likely to spread infectious diseases, such as the flu or cold, which could knock out a large percentage of the workforce for at least a few days.
Having rules and codes, and strictly enforcing those rules, on proper hygiene will make the entire workplace a safer, healthier and more enjoyable place to work. Still, though, it is important to talk to an employee who is not following the hygiene code in a way that will not embarrass or harass the employee.
Trends: As part of health and wellness initiatives offered by the employee health program, many employers offer exercise classes during lunch breaks or employee gyms that can be utilized anytime during the day. While this is a good way to help employees become healthier, employers should also take into consideration the additional hygiene concerns that accompany this trend. When offering classes or gyms, employers should also make sure to offer showers and time to use them.
Ashley Shaw, J.D., Legal Editor
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