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Dealing with the tricky issues - personal hygiene

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One of the most difficult situations for employers is dealing with an employee who is dirty, smelly or a combination of both.

If you’ve received complaints about an employee’s lack of personal hygiene, it’s always best to have an initial conversation in private. It’s not an easy one, so approach it sensitively and supportively.

It’s imperative to tread carefully. The employee could be suffering from a medical condition, bereavement, depression, or stress – any number of things could be responsible for a lapse in personal hygiene.

Support your employee and suggest remedies but make clear the situation needs to improve for the benefit and health and safety of them and their colleagues. Provide a reasonable timeframe for this to happen and document the details of your meeting.

If the matter doesn’t improve you may need to resort to disciplinary proceedings. This should always be handled carefully, taking into account any risks around disability discrimination and making sure you’ve provided reasonable support.