Restaurant employee uniforms can vary from place to place. Where a simple apron may suffice in one restaurant, another may require a cap, polo shirt, nametag, promotional button and even special shoes in addition to the apron. Uniforms can help market and build the restaurant concept, so it is important that the standards are clearly defined.
Know Your Brand Identity
The restaurant concept will usually help determine the kind of image the employees should portray. A casual bar and grill might have slack requirements, limited to a tee-shirt and jeans with an apron for the checkbook. A fine dining restaurant, however, will probably require their servers and other Front of the House (FOH) staff to dress in pressed white shirts and black slacks, vest and tie.
Clearly Define All Appearance Standards
Beyond just uniform standards, be sure to delineate all appearance standards that apply, which might include the following:
- No visible tattoos
- No visible facial piercings
- Natural hair color
- Clean shaven or neatly trimmed beards on male staff
- Clean, trimmed finger nails free from nail polish for food prep workers
- No excessive jewelry
- Neatly pressed clothing
Include Policies in the Employee Handbook
Any and all appearance standards should be included in an employee handbook or manual so that policies are consistent and fair for the entire staff. When policies are documented like this, they can be properly enforced from the very beginning.
Paying for Uniforms
If the employer requires uniforms, the cost is considered to be the restaurant’s responsibility. If the employer requires the employee to front the cost, then this cost must not reduce the employee’s wages below minimum wage. Usually, if the uniform involves more than just a simple apron on top of casual clothes, the restaurant provides the garb.
Research has shown a relationship trend between staff members’ perceptions of their uniforms and their overall perception of their jobs. Employees who rated their uniforms highly typically had a positive attitude regarding their work.1 Uniforms are meant to elevate the workers to a level of professionalism and service, not to make them feel embarrassed about the position. Uniforms that are clean, pressed and well-fitted look professional and make an employee feel empowered.
Additionally, employees who have a uniform can feel like part of the team. When they put on their uniforms, they represent the restaurant’s high standards of appearance, as well as the dignity and responsibility of a service professional.