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Should Perfume Be Worn in the Workplace?
Christine McDade is an experienced human resources manager.
Unless one works at the perfume counter at Macy's, it is always a good idea to consider the amount of cologne or perfume worn at work. While it is nice to have a special fragrance as an identity for others to recognize and admire, employees should take heed to understand that overdoing the fragrances may cause problems for others in the workplace. Sensitivity to certain smells, offending others and overdoing the amount worn are common issues related to employees wearing too much of their favorite fragrance at work. The impression one gives others when they wear too much perfume is off-putting because of the excessive nature of the scent. Employees are wise to be mindful of the fragrances they wear at work and during special occasions in the workplace.
What is the big deal?
Smelling nice is something that is very important to people. In fact, many people spend a lot of money on expensive fragrances much like they do on clothes, shoes and other wardrobe accessories. These items often are worn to work along with a favorite cologne, perfume or body spray. Many employees wear the fragrances to complete their outward appearance. Men and women alike include such fragrances as part of their professional wardrobe. These powerful scents come in many forms:
- After-shave Lotions
- Body Spray
- Body Lotions
- Shower Gels
- Hair Products (hairspray, gels, mousse, shampoos, etc.)
The items listed above are seemingly innocent, but when used excessively, can cause issues for people who meet them in the workplace. In cubicles, cramped offices and conference rooms, employees wearing strong fragrances can be almost toxic to their co-worker's nasal passages. Sneezing, migraines and difficulty breathing are a few common reactions for people who are sensitive to strong fragrances. Employers must make accommodations for persons who suffer due to strong fragrances being worn by co-workers.
Sample Language for Workplace Fragrance Policy
- New Anti-Perfume Rules in Detroit May Cause a Legal Stink | Fox News
Some Detroit workers will be forbidden from wearing scented products following a landmark court decision that sided with a woman who said her coworker's scents hindered her breathing, myfoxdetroit.com reported Tuesday.
- Do you have a workplace odor and fragrance policy? Here's sample language
Do you have a workplace odor and fragrance policy? Here's sample language - Human resources News on Disabilities (ADA)
Problems With Strong Frangrances
People with sensitivities to certain smells can experience health issues as a result of being around others who wear strong fragrances. Such smells, as well as being annoying, can trigger breathing and other health problems for employees. Some employers have had to discuss issues with fragrance sensitivities with their employees. For example, the City of Detroit, Michigan, implemented a policy to address wearing strong fragrances due to a lawsuit filed by an employee who had complained to management about a co-worker's strong perfume. In order to address such situations, employers consider and may choose to implement a policy for employees to follow. Employees may even request such policies to prevent allergic reactions from occurring.
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
- ADA.gov homepage
The ADA Home Page provides access to Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations for businesses and State and local governments, technical assistance materials, ADA Standards for Accessible Design, links to Federal agencies with ADA responsibil
Ways to Avoid Problems with Fragrances
In the event no policy exists related to the wearing of cologne/perfume, employees can help to avoid problems by being conscience of what they choose to wear to work. Since many people are sensitive to smells, it will be helpful if employees save the strong perfume for the weekends and their own special occasions. Wearing fragrances do not have to be banned, but employees should be mindful of how much they wear at work.
There are moments related to work that should be as "fragrance-free" as possible. Consider the following:
- Job Interviews - To make a positive impression, interviewers prefer to not be distracted by strong perfume and cologne.
- Meeting New Clients - Again, in order to make a good impression for purposes of sales and client relations, strong perfume and cologne can be received negatively by others.
- Working with Co-workers on a Project - Working side by side with co-workers on a group project will mean spending time together to get the work completed. Strong fragrances worn by employees can be disconcerting to the others.
- When Working Outside in Warm Weather - While deodorants and antiperspirants are needed when working outside during the warm weather, sweating on top of the strong fragrances such as perfume and colognes will not help keep a neutral smelling environment for employees.
Some Closing Thoughts...
People enjoy their special brands of perfume and cologne. Spending good sums of money on a preferred fragrance, it is not surprising that employees choose to make them part of their normal professional wardrobe. Like anything else worn to work, care should be given to these fragrances to make sure that they are worn in a professional manner. When care is given to the work and who is affected by such smells, employees will be able to avoid unnecessary problems.