A Shortage of Common Sense at the City Council

Today’s front page in The Sentinel concerns Stoke City Council’s decision to ban staff who work outside from wearing shorts unless the council decide the weather is “extreme” enough. They do not say just what is extreme. This is despite them issuing binmen and other staff working outside with shorts last year.

This pettiness is sadly typical of the council now, where it will not show its staff respect by treating them as adults. Surely it’s warm enough for shorts if someone feels it is! It seems blindingly obvious that allowing staff some latitude in what they wear to work means they will be comfortable, and thus more productive.

But why stop at staff who work outside? The years I worked there were spent in various buildings without air conditioning. Consequently, they were insufferably hot in summer, even with all the windows open and fans on. (And typical of the council, there were never enough fans and they wouldn’t buy more). Requests by male staff to be allowed to wear shorts on these days were routinely refused. No explanation was ever given, just like a parent justifying their decision by the old cliche because I say so.

I always regarded this as sexist as female staff were allowed to wear shorter dresses in summer. Just what is the difference? The council’s own dress code contained no ban on shorts, just a vague statement that clothing “should be appropriate”. A word clearly open to interpretation. With the recent warm spell, I’m very glad I no longer work there.

The Sentinel ends its editorial with a call for “the City Council [to start] treating its workers like grown ups”. Now how’s that for a radical idea?

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