HR MATTERS E-TIPS
THIS WEEK'S E-TIP: FLSA - How to Handle Employee Body Odor Complaints Q&A
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THIS WEEK'S E-TIP: How to Handle Employee Body Odor Complaints Q&A
Let's face it – no manager wants to have to confront the issue of an
employee's body odor. But, unfortunately, you can't ignore the issue if
other employees are complaining. Find out four tips for dealing with
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THIS WEEK'S E-TIP: How to Handle Employee Body Odor
Q: Over the last three weeks, we have received several
regarding an employee's body odor. The employee works in a
office area with fifteen coworkers, and about half of them have
complained. He is an excellent worker and we don't want to lose
but the other employees are very upset by the odor. How should
deal with this issue?
A: Body odor and other personal hygiene problems are
everyone's least-favorite issue to tackle and can be very
address and remedy. The key to dealing with this issue is to
employee's embarrassment (and yours) with the need to correct
problem. Here are four tips for approaching an employee with
- Discuss the matter with the employee in private and, if
limit discussions about the meeting to key personnel with a need
know. Complaining employees should not be privy to the details
meetings and only should be informed that the issues have been
- Be factual and straightforward and point out specific
that should be corrected. Do not sugarcoat the problem. For
explain that other employees have noticed an odor and that the
employee needs to remedy the problem. If the employee's clothing
appears to be dirty and unkempt, and thus is creating or
the problem, then identify this issue as well.
- Make sure to set a time limit for improvement, just as you
for any other
dress/appearance code (free policy download)
you do not, the employee may not understand the severity of the
problem and may fail to remedy it properly.
- Follow your normal progressive disciplinary policy for
infringements, up to termination for continued violations. While
subject of body odor and hygiene is very personal, it also is
work-related when employees complain. Therefore, your policies
procedures should be applied, as appropriate.
Excessive body odor by itself generally is not considered a
under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You should,
be prepared to deal with an employee whose body odor could be a
symptom of a serious disease or health condition. In these rare
instances, you should follow your normal ADA procedures, such as
requiring the employee to provide medical certification of the
and discussing possible accommodations with him. However, do not
immediately assume that body odor is an indication of a medical
problem. Most odors are simply the result of poor hygiene.
Subscribers to the
Personnel Policy Manual and HR Policy Answers on
CD can find more information on dealing with personal hygiene issues
Personal Appearance of Employees, Chapter 802, note 8.
If you don't have the manual, but would like to order a trial
review, go to:
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