Noel Towell | The Age | 5 May 2014
Public servants at the Taxation Office have been told they are dressing too sexily for their jobs.
Bosses at Taxation have cracked down on the “revealing” or “immodest” outfits some of their officials were wearing to work, with a warning employees might be sent home to change clothes ruled too titillating for the office.
It is understood the nation’s top taxman, Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan, has personally ordered workers home from the ATO’s Sydney CBD building, telling them to come back in more appropriate attire.
The men of the ATO have not been spared the style offensive, told to smarten up or go home, with a specific warning that boardies are for the beach, not the office.
Likewise, a taxman in thongs will be considered an intolerable fashion faux pas under the new enforcement regime.
The smarten-up directives have been felt across a number of the ATO’s divisions around the country and have come as a culture shock for many of its public servants, who are unused to managers taking in interest in their workers’ appearance.
Insiders say the crackdown is another example of Mr Jordan’s growing influence as he tries to bring the culture of his former workplace, private sector accounting firm KPMG, to the 23,000 public servants of the ATO.
Taxation’s service delivery chief Robert Ravanello started rocking the new look two months ago, telling his officials to cover up or smarten up.
Mr Ravanello sent a memo to his workers, saying the there was too much bare flesh on display or too many street-casual looks around the service delivery offices and it was all cramping Taxation’s style.
“There are examples of service delivery employees dressing too casually or immodestly, therefore impacting on the perceptions of the professionalism of the ATO,” Mr Ravanello wrote to his staff.
“Our professionalism is displayed through our values and code of conduct, but also through our appearance and dress.
“Items of clothing such as thongs, board shorts or revealing attire, are just some examples of clothing that are considered to be too casual and therefore inappropriate for the ATO workplace.”
Managers at the tax practitioner and lodgment strategy business unit in Newcastle in New South Wales have recently had “discussions” with several workers, advising that if their appearance did not improve, they would be sent home.
At Taxation’s Latitude East building in Sydney’ CBD Mr Jordan is understood to have personally intervened, telling individual workers to go and get changed, although it is unclear whether it was board shorts, thongs or skimpy skirts that spurred the commissioner into action.
A spokeswoman for Mr Jordan would not comment.
“We won’t comment on rumours, but we do expect people to dress professionally,” she said. The spokeswoman confirmed that Taxation wanted its workers to use “good judgment” when getting dressed for work.
“Our appearance and dress should reflect our pride in the ATO and our respect for those we work and deal with, particularly the public.
“We expect staff to exercise good judgment on what is appropriate to wear and if they are unsure we encourage them to ask their manager.
“Information for staff on expectations around presentation at work can also be found on our internal website.”
© 2014 The Age | This article first appeared in The Age on 5 May 2014.