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One in ten UK employees regularly go to work in dirty clothes

12th Feb 18 4:28 pm


One in ten UK workers have admitted to turning up to work wearing unwashed clothing, new research reveals.

The survey of 1,000 UK adults, conducted by online clothing retailer Banana Moon Clothing, looked at how many times people wear an item of clothing before washing it and how long they think they can get away with wearing dirty clothes.

The average employee wears their uniform three times before washing it, with one in ten (10 per cent) admitting to weHaring their work uniform five times or more before it goes in the wash basket.

The results also revealed that it is women (13 per cent) who are most likely to turn up to work with unwashed clothing compared to 12 per cent of men, with over a quarter (26 per cent) of 18-24 year olds admitting to heading to work in unwashed clothing, compared to just 5 per cent of over 50s.

York is the area of the country where workers are most likely to wear dirty clothes to work, with 25 per cent of people admitting to wearing dirty clothes on the job. The top cities are:

1.   York (25%)

2.   Aberdeen (23%)

3.   Swansea (22%)

4.   Birmingham (22%)

5.   Worcester (20%)

Despite most people wanting to impress, 10 per cent of those surveyed in the Yorkshire and Humber region also admitted to turning up to a job interview in dirty clothes.

Knowing how to bring up the subject of personal hygiene in the workplace can be a minefield for employers, but, if you have staff who are regularly turning up to work in dirty clothes it’s vital that the issue is addressed. Martine Robins, Director from Hrdept.co.uk said:  “Having a difficult conversation in the workplace can be fraught with dangers. Addressing sensitive problems can feel uncomfortable, yet, with the right approach there are ways to undertake this type of conversation to minimise embarrassment for all concerned.

“Firstly if you are going to have such a discussion with someone with a personal hygiene problem, remember to initiate the conversation with sensitivity.  Arrange to meet the person away from other colleagues in a private meeting, and start the conversation by asking how  things are with them generally. This will enable you to gauge if there may be additional factors that you should be aware of in the situation.  

“It is then important to sensitively mention that a personal hygiene problem has been noticed and to try to see if there are any additional factors which you, as an employer, can assist with. For example, people forget that some fabrics are not breathable and so need to be regularly washed and changed, and bear in mind that if you are providing uniforms, you need to ensure that the employee has enough supplies of clothing for the work required.

“Finally, do not forget that how you choose to deal with such a situation will not only impact the individual concerned but how others observe your behaviour and actions. Therefore, it’s important to lead by example and in doing so, address the issue once and for all knowing that you did so in the right way.”

Commenting on the research, Alex Grace, Managing Director of Banana Moon Clothing, said: “With people leading such busy work lives it is understandable that squeezing in time to wash clothes every day can be a difficult task for some.

“However, when it comes to work clothing, it’s important for employees to make the right first impression and to be presentable, whether they are customer facing or behind the scenes.

“We would recommend employers make it easier for their staff by providing multiple sets of uniform in light and breathable materials in order to ensure that their employees always look their best.”

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