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Country: England - UK
Field: Software Development (Not customer facing)

I was at the work summer party the other day, and asked my boss if I could dye my hair blue; he's pretty high up the chain (CTO) and he told me: yea, it would be fine. However the owner of the business is a bit of a loose cannon, and although they are not around much (once or twice a month) they might not like my new beautiful blue hair!

So, since the CTO (my manager's manager's manager; fully 3 levels above me, with only the owner above him) said it's OK, if the owner decides they don't like my blue hair, can they fire me?

-- Edit -- This is not about will eccentricity hinder my career, it's specifically "I have gotten permission to change my personal appearance, can my employer (in the UK) dismiss me even though the business has given me permission."

The questions also is not about "will this affect my career growth", or the 'other' ways they can get rid of me. I'm not even concerned about being 'gotten rid of' I'm specifically asking about "Can I be dismissed if I make a change to my appearance that I have permission to make"

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DISCLAIMER: IANAL (I Am Not A Lawyer)

Company Handbook has nothing about hair colour, nor anything really about appearance. If I dye my hair blue, can this be an issue?

TL;DR : Legally: NO - professionally: Be careful, and ask your manager before.

Does your employer have the right to tell you what you can or can't wear to work?

The answer depends on whether your company's policy/dress-code violates laws prohibiting discrimination. In the UK, parliament stated that a company dress codes must be reasonable and must make equivalent requirements for men and women. This is the law and employers must abide by it. From this case study *.PDF - House of Parliament, related to the Equality Act of 2010.

From the same document : 49. In her supplementary evidence, the Minister for Women and Equalities provided the example of a dress code which requires female workers to wear make-up. The Minister viewed this as a “clear cut” case of illegality unless a “corresponding” requirement applied to men, for example, a smart haircut or rules about facial hair.

  • Q: does you company handbook ask women NOT TO drye their hair ?
  • A: if NO, you are then entitled to do it too, according to the HoP.

It can be legal to requiere that employees regularly maintained hair colour (if an individual colours her hair), with no visible roots. (NOTE: to keep this as small as I can, I won't quote all the interesting parts, but you may either read it, or CTRL + F "hair" will do the job...).


In the comments, some good advice from @Joe-Strazzere and @Mister-Positive:

  • Have you asked your direct manager? If not, why not?
  • You may not get fired, but [...] hinder your ability to get promoted or look for new work.

Related: 1.GUARDIAN: dress code discrimination 2.Labor laws - lawyer advice 3.workplace equality law 4.appearance at work *.PDF

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First of all... IANAL

But I'm pretty sure that, legally, they cannot fire you because of how you look. If they did it would be grounds for you to take them to court for wrongful dismissal and discrimination (at a minimum). Lol

The only caveat to the above is if you were hired because of how you look... say if you were an actor chosen to play a role of a fat guy and then went on a massive diet and were skinny by the time filming started etc...

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