Under a proposed dress code, women working at the Mid-West Regional, Regional Maternity, Regional Orthopaedic, Ennis General, and Nenagh General will be told they should not wear garments which reveal excessive cleavage, or halter-neck tops, micro- skirts, very short mini-skirts, or short tops.
Mary Fogarty, INMO industrial relations officer, said nurses resented the HSE’s terminology, which she described as bizarre.
She said: “I have written to the HSE and have asked them to remove references to specific styles of clothing, words like skintight, and replace these references with words such as ‘comfortable’ and ‘appropriate’. These references in the HSE circular to micro-skirts, backless tops, and clothing which reveals excessive cleavage are not acceptable.
“It is very sexist and I told the HSE that when I was responding to the dress code circular. I thought it was ridiculous and have never seen the like of it in over 30 years in the health service. The way it was worded, it was insulting to women hospital employees.”
Ms Fogarty said if the HSE had an issue with an individual and how that person turned up dressed for work, the best way to deal with this was to address it in a confidential manner.
A spokesman for the HSE said the purpose of introducing a dress code is to inculcate respect for self and respect for the public.
He said: “The Mid Western Regional Hospitals group [five acute hospitals] believes employees should be professional in appearance and in attitude to their work at all times, and should not place themselves or patients at risk in relation to health, safety, infection control or in any situation causing potential embarrassment. Dress codes are commonplace in most large institutions and firms.
“The idea of formalising a code is that all concerned clearly know what is acceptable and what is not.”