Publix relaxes dress code, will now allow employees to have beards — as long as they're neat

A major supermarket chain is making a huge change to its dress code. Publix, which is headquartered in Lakeland, Fla., will finally let its employees sport beards.

Miami’s WPLG Local 10 shared the store’s official policy, which will allow workers to have beards that are “no more than approximately two inches” long. The policy also states that “all facial hair must maintain a neat, clean, and professional appearance.” (Publix’s previous “personal appearance standards,” which are still live on the company site, state that “males must be clean shaven — no beards or goatees allowed.”)

WPLG Local 10 noted that the change in policy comes after Brandon Wesley, a Publix employee in Jacksonville, started a petition called “Let us have beards!” that eventually brought in more than 20,000 signatures. “I believe that the majority of the people I work with at Publix also believe that we should be allowed to have some facial hair besides only a mustache,” Wesley wrote in the petition. It may sound like a small dress code change, but facial hair can be a huge part of self-expression.

Plus, some workers may not enjoy shaving for other reasons, like the Publix employee who started a Reddit thread about the dress code last year, noting that for him, shaving causes razor burn. So for employees who want to sport facial hair, the news is a huge win.

Before the policy became official, Publix tested allowing facial hair at some locations across the United States. In a January tweet, Publix confirmed that it was “piloting guidelines that include allowing our male associates to wear neat, clean, and professional beards and goatees in a few Publix locations.” The chain added that “food safety remains our top priority, and that will not be compromised.”

Recent evidence suggests that the popularity of beards is on the rise. A YouGov survey published last year found that the number of British men with facial hair had risen by 5 percent from 2011 to 2016. And among men 18 to 39, a whopping 61 percent reported having beards in 2016, compared to 43 percent back in 2011. Plus, CNBC reported in 2016 that there’s been a recent increase in sales of men’s grooming and beard care products.

Personal style aside, the new rules could also help Publix’s bottom line. WPLG 10 points out that the more relaxed dress code could help the grocery chain “recruit more workers in a tight labor market.” If self-expression is important to potential workers, knowing they’d be free to keep their preferred facial hair style could inspire people to take a job at Publix instead of at another company. It sounds like the new policy is a win-win situation, and the thousands who signed Wesley’s petition are sure to be thrilled.

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