Administrative (Non-Clinical) Policy
This administrative policy applies to the operations and staff of University of Wisconsin Hospital and
Clinics Authority as integrated effective July 1, 2015, including the legacy operations and staff of
University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and University (UWHC) and University of Wisconsin
Medical Foundation (UWMF).
Policy Title: Dress Code and Appearance Policy
Policy Number: 9.16
Effective Date: January 1, 2018
Chapter: Human Resources
To establish a dress code and appearance policy for all UW Health employees that emphasizes
professionalism. UW Health’s employees are representatives of the organization and are responsible for
creating a positive experience for our patients, families, visitors, clinical staff, and colleagues whenever
they are at work or at work related functions.
Departments may adopt department specific dress codes that are more stringent than the minimum
standards outlined in this policy. However, before adopting such standards, department directors will
consult with their Employee Relations Consultant (ERC) within Human Resources, and the Vice
President responsible for the department operations.
This policy applies to all persons performing work for UW Health including regular employees,
physicians, residents, SMPH employees working at UW Health sites, temporary or contract employees,
students and volunteers. For purposes of this policy, these persons will be collectively referred to as
III. POLICY ELEMENTS
Our patients and their families expect and deserve UW Health’s employees to dress and present
themselves in a professional manner. UW Health employees will wear appropriate dress for the nature of
the business and type of work being performed.
This policy provides detailed examples and guidelines for appropriate dress and appearance. These
examples and guidelines set minimum standards and do not create an exhaustive list. Individual
employees and leaders should always rely on their own sound judgement when determining whether dress
or appearance is appropriate.
If any doubt exists, our employees and leaders should err on the side of increased professionalism to
ensure that our patients and their families maintain confidence in UW Health employees and the services
provided. Employees and leaders will seek counsel from their director whenever questions about
appropriate dress or appearance arise.
In areas of UW Health not visited by patients and/or their families, or representatives from outside
entities, leaders may set dress codes for their employees that are less restrictive than dress codes found in
patient care areas. Employees in these areas are expected to maintain a professional appearance and dress
for their day.
A. Identification Badge
1. Employees will be issued a UW Health photo ID badge that must be visible and properly
displayed at chest level while on duty. Individuals shall not wear their UW Health badge
when they are not at work or while in the role of a patient or visitor. Employees must
wear their UW Health photo ID badge and applicable badge backers (i.e., Nurse, Physical
Therapy, Child Life, etc) at all times while on duty. ID badges will not be defaced nor
modified in any manner by anyone outside of the badging office.
1. Employees choosing to wear pins on clothing may do so as long as they are discreet,
tasteful and non-promotional and align with the following:
a. Related to UW Health major initiatives (e.g., #1 Hospital, Magnet Designation,
Leader in LGBTQ Healthcare, healthy eating) and officially authorized and/or
distributed by UW Health.
b. Supporting efforts to treat or cure specific diseases (e.g., pink ribbon, red dress).
c. National flag pins representing the employee’s country of origin.
d. Serve a clinical function (e.g., pediatricians wearing animal pin/toys on their
stethoscope to distract pediatric patients).
1. Employees will ensure that their dress is always appropriate for the setting and whether
patients and families are present or could be present.
2. Dress for Patient Care Locations
a. Employees who work at or are visiting any location where patients and their
families are present will maintain an appropriate and professional dress and
appearance for patient care areas.
b. Professional dress includes, but is not limited to the following:
2. Dress pants
3. Casual dress pants (e.g., Dockers, chinos, khakis, corduroys)
4. Dress capris, gauchos or cropped pants
5. Skirts and dresses just above the knee or longer
6. Dress shirts/blouses and collared polo type shirts
8. Sport coats/blazers
9. UW Health apparel (see Director for acceptable options)
10. Sleeveless and cap sleeve tops are appropriate as long as the majority of
the shoulder is covered.
11. Leggings may be allowed as long as they are professional looking and
worn under a dress or tunic which covers appropriately. Leggings should
be of a dark or neutral hue and may have a small or minimal pattern (e.g.,
no vibrant colors or patterns).
12. Head coverings and hats may only be worn when associated with
religious affiliation or for medical reasons.
13. Only Facilities employees are permitted to wear jeans in patient care
areas. Jeans worn shall have no holes, be clean and well-fitting.
3. Dress for Non-Patient Care Locations
a. Employees who work at or are visiting any location where patients, their families
or outside representatives are not present may also wear neat and presentable
jeans, in addition to the professional dress listed above. Jeans worn in non-patient
care areas shall have no holes, be clean and well-fitting.
4. Inappropriate dress in any UW Health location includes, but is not limited to the
a. Baseball hats unless they are part of established departmental uniform.
b. Mini-skirts or short dresses
c. Shorts unless they are part of established departmental uniform, such as in Valet.
d. Blouses, shirts, sweaters, skirts, dresses or pants that do not cover the shoulders,
back or stomach while standing or sitting
e. Flannel shirts
f. T-shirts (e.g., graphic and athletic t-shirts)
g. Exercise/athletic clothing (e.g., sweatshirts, sweatpants, jogging suits).
Exception: Sports Medicine personnel are permitted to wear appropriate fitness
apparel related to their position.
h. Sheer, spandex and/or low cut/slung garments
i. Bib overalls
j. Any jean or jean-styled pant (e.g, denim jeans, blue jeans, white jeans, color
fashion jeans) may not be worn where employees have patient contact (hospitals
and clinics), or are meeting with individuals from external entities (e.g., vendors,
1. Employees visiting another UW Health facility must observe the dress
code at that facility (i.e., an off-site IS employee visiting University
Hospital in a patient area shall not wear jeans.).
5. Clothing should be clean, neat, in good condition and fit properly. Torn, stained or frayed
articles of clothing are not acceptable.
6. Shoes should be clean and in good repair.
a. Direct caregivers (those staff members that provide hands-on care at any time):
closed-toe shoes must be worn at all times and have noise resistant soles and
b. Non-direct caregivers: open-toe shoes may be worn as long as they look
professional. Flip-flops are never acceptable in any patient care or nonpatient
7. Direct caregivers may have additional department-specific policies and/or guidelines
related to use of scrub attire.
8. Compliance with this policy is expected at all times, including situations where personal
attire may be covered by a lab coat.
9. Uniforms are allowed and will be determined by individual department guidelines and/or
policy (e.g., Environmental Services, Facilities Engineering).
10. Theme dress days may be permitted on a reasonable basis with approval from the
respective department director. Examples may include wearing a certain color of clothing
to show support for a cause or sports team.
1. Hair should be clean and professional in appearance. Unless prohibited by departmental
policy, working conditions, or directives, non-traditional hair color may be allowed if
vibrant hair color doesn’t cause a distraction for patients and their families. Leaders with
advanced notice may require natural hair color for certain meetings or events.
2. In patient contact situations, long hair must be controlled to prevent contact with the
patient, equipment or supplies.
3. Control of beards and mustaches will be coordinated by individual departments, if they
affect or interfere with job performance and/or safety.
4. Strong smelling cologne, perfume, scented lotions and/or powders should not be worn.
Any complaints regarding excessive fragrances will be quickly resolved by the leader in
consultation with Employee Relations.
5. Unless prohibited by departmental policy, working conditions, or directives, cosmetics
and jewelry may be worn sparingly.
6. Unless prohibited by departmental policy, working conditions, or directives, gauged ears
may be allowed and facial piercings may be allowed if rings or studs are small.
7. Tattoos with graphic or offensive images/wording must be covered (e.g., long sleeve
shirt, gloves). Leaders also have the discretion to require that an employee cover any
tattoo(s) or combination of tattoos that could be considered offensive.
8. Direct caregivers are not permitted to wear artificial nails (any nail other than the natural
nail is considered an artificial nail. This includes acrylic nails which are adhered to the
underlying natural nail, extensions, tips, gel overlays, resin wraps, and bondings). Refer
to UW Health Clinical Policy 4.1.13, Hand Hygiene. Other operational areas may
prohibit wearing artificial nails due to safety or sanitary requirements.
1. Employees are responsible for maintaining appropriate personal hygiene and cleanliness.
2. Proper hand washing techniques are important for personal safety and control of
infection. Refer to UW Health Clinical Policy 4.1.13.
3. Finger nails and toe nails, if exposed, will be neatly trimmed and clean.
1. Protective shoes with reinforced toes are required when specified by individual
2. Non-conductive safety shoes are required where specified by individual departments.
3. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is available on all inpatient units and clinics.
Employees must wear this equipment when the risk of exposure exists.
1. While jeans are permissible in non-patient care areas, leaders may require traditional
business attire for certain meetings or events.
2. Leaders should communicate and reinforce dress code and hygiene expectations in pre-
hire interviews, during annual performance appraisals if necessary, and on an ongoing
basis as needed.
3. Leaders are responsible for enforcement of this policy and may direct non-compliant
employees to clock out for the day, return home, and may also apply appropriate
4. In consultation with Employee Relations, leaders will make final decisions related to
questionable attire and hygiene.
1. Requests for exceptions related to a medical condition or a religious accommodation
should be submitted to Employee Relations and reviewed accordingly.
2. System-wide exceptions to dress guidelines may occasionally be made (e.g., allowing
jeans in patient care areas) for specific purposes such as a UW Health collective fund-
raising event. These exceptions may only be granted by the Chief Human Resources
Officer in consultation with the requesting leader’s operational Vice President.
3. Any deviation from this policy, not already identified elsewhere, must have leader and
Human Resources’ approval.
This policy creates no rights, contractual or otherwise. Statements of policy obtained herein are not made
for the purpose of inducing any person to become or remain an employee of UW Health, and should not
be considered "promises" or as granting "property" rights. UW Health may add to, subtract from and/or
modify this policy at any time. Nothing contained in this policy impairs the right of an employee or UW
Health to terminate the employment relationship at-will.
Sr. Management Sponsor: Vice President Chief Human Resources Officer
Author: Director, Employee Relations
Approval Committee: UW Health Administrative Policy & Procedure Committee
UW Health Chief Administrative Officer