HR Support on Dealing with Employee Hygiene Issues

Editor's Note: Employees must wash hands.

Melissa BoyceOverview: 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 required by the state, not the restaurant itself. Even if hygiene laws do not apply, there are benefits to requiring good hygiene.

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 an employee who smells bad, can make it hard to focus on the work at hand. In addition, an unhygienic employee may be 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.

Strictly enforcing 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 hygiene policies in a way that will not embarrass or harass the employee.

Trends: Many employers offer opportunities and incentives for employees to increase their physical activity, such as exercise classes or walking clubs during lunch breaks; onsite gyms, basketball courts, etc.; or reimbursement of reasonable expenses related to riding a bike to work. While these are good ways to help employees become healthier, employers should also take into consideration the additional hygiene concerns that accompany this trend. Employers should make sure to offer showers and time to use them.

Author: Melissa Gonzalez Boyce, JD, Legal Editor

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About This Topic

HR guidance on promoting employee hygiene and creating a healthy workplace. Support on following rules and regulations regarding this topic.