Saturday, 6 February 2010

Let me through I'm a paramedic (wearing inappropriate footwear)

What a weird world we live in!

As readers of HR Case Studies already know, American HR Managers are kept awake at night by the thought of bare legs, but here in the United Kingdom the most significant business issue to be occupying the minds of management strategists isn’t Business Process Re-engineering, Return on Investment for Learning and Development Programmes or the challenges created by Generation Y, but something much, much more important: the wearing of novelty socks.

Uniformed staff within my local ambulance service have been barred from wearing socks with images of cartoon characters, jokes and garish patterns after bosses (i.e. those who clearly know about these matters) have declared them to be them "unprofessional". OK, the strict uniform policy issued by North West Ambulance Service, also extends to a ban on wrist watches, visible body piercing, excessive make-up and certain tattoos. But nevertheless, staff have been warned they could be disciplined and ultimately even sacked if they flout the dress code which forms part of their terms of employment.

As one would expect, the decision has polarised opinion:

On the one hand (or should that be foot?) a spokesman for the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel, said: "I am a firm believer in having a dress code but this is stretching the rules too far. The majority of staff wear boots so their socks can't even be seen.”

But on the other hand/foot management insist the code is designed to ensure health and safety standards are met, and includes bans on clinical staff wearing wrist watches and some jewellery because they can carry germs or injure patients: "We expect our staff to wear uniforms provided and do not feel that novelty socks with slogans and images are appropriate for presenting a professional image to patients and members of the public.”

Personally, I’m not sure that when I’m being resuscitated by a paramedic after my rapidly-approaching heart attack I’m going to be too concerned by the Homer Simpson socks.

Ambulance chiefs threaten to sack paramedics who wear novelty socks

  • Over to you, dear readers. Is this professionalism or have North West Ambulance Service put their foot in it?

1 comment:

  1. To be honest with you – the one and only time I’ve been in the presence of a paramedic in a professional capacity I was too busy worrying about the fact that I’d not shaved my legs and was ‘sort of’ wearing one of my mum’s nighties to even notice whether he was wearing socks or ladies stockings let alone what motif they had on!!!

    Yep agree with the removal of personal adornments that might scratch me as you lift me onto the stretcher but socks – give me a break!!

    Given they are also so concerned about germs, I wonder whether they are so thoughtful when it comes to the washing of garments as in my experience uniforms and footwear go home to be laundered – how safe is that!!!

    They should worry about hygiene issues and forget about the socks that the children bought dad for father’s day and he wears to give him comfort to see him through the harrowing day ahead.