Employee who wears too much Perfume!

OK, I have an employee complaint for you which I am not sure how to handle!  We've had numerous complaints about an employee who wears to much perfume.  Fellow employees who work in her office area are complaining of getting headaches and feeling ill do to her overuse.  We have nothing in our handbook which covers this situation.  We need to address it somehow, as the employee who made the complaint is one who expects situations to be taken care of right away, no matter how trival they may seem. What would you do?


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  • I have had a similar issue.  There are two ways you can handle it.  Address the person directly or address the company as a whole (email etc)

    Basically you need to let them know that because we work in close proximity to our fellow employees we need to be mindful that many people are sensitive to certain smells etc. and we need to ask you to be courteous of your neighbors/fellow coworkers and limit the amount of perfumes, sented lotions and different foods (if food it allowed at work stations etc) that are in the office as everyone is different....  I had the conversation and it seemed to go well.  Some people dont even realized that they are over-using and are more than willing to accomodate their neighbors!

  • Address it as a performance issue. The over use of perfume is causing others to not be able to work.

    I'm surprised that those affected don't just tell her that her perfume is too much rather than relying on HR to take of such a trivial matter!  Most people would rather be told by their co-workers if they are causing them a problem than having it elevated to HR. It sounds like your complainer is "habitual" and what I call "a pot stirer"--never happy unless there is some controversy or drama going on.

    Good luck--and revise your grooming policy!

  • This comes up for us every once in a while and the problem has been men and women alike, so here is what we have done that worked. We sent out an email and posted notes to our team (text below if you need it) as a friendly reminder. Then since in this type of case the people who are the issues usually don't recognize themselves as the source of the problem, one of us in HR issued a delicate reminder to the person individually. If possible we have handled this by email as not to embarrass the person by having a face to face discussion. Typically it isn't intentional and the person, so I wouldn't make it a big deal unless the person repeatedly ignores the personal reminder.

    Subject: Common Sense about Scents

    Dear Team: <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


    • As we continue to grow and add more and more people working in very close proximity to each other, it is more and more important to respect each other's space - and that includes proximity to what could be construed as overwhelming scents from either cologne or perfume. 


    • This is indeed an equal-opportunity issue.


    • Bottom line is that we should all be sensitive to the fact that any fragrance or cologne we may wear in the workplace may have a detrimental effect to others who may be allergic and who suffer negative reactions as a result.  One rule of thumb about perfume or cologne usage is: "If you can smell your perfume or cologne on yourself, it's too much."


    • Lastly, yet not of less importance, scented candles pose the same risk to those who are sensitive to fragrances.  Further, unattended candles or those placed around paperwork or anything else that could ignite, represent a safety risk and fire hazard so from this point forward, candles will be prohibited in our facility.  


    • Thank you for your cooperation and consideration as we continue to strive for the best possible working conditions for each and every one of us. These may seem like baby steps but they will certainly be of tremendous value to those who have suffered allergic reactions to something we likely may have never realized could be a serious issue. Further, it is our duty and obligation to deter any safety risk and burning candles represent just that.  

      As always, please feel free to call me if you have any questions or comments.


  • I also had the same situation happen here at the beginning of the summer when we hired a temp file clerk. She wore a lot of perfume and even with our windows open it was stiffling. We had a meeting with her to discuss things regarding her position, hours, supervisor, expectations, etc. and our Dept Manager brought it up very nicely saying (not verbatum), "Although I really like your perfume I DO find it very over-powering and it's causing headaches. I am asking you to please use it less before you come into the office. Since our quarters are quite small we all need to respect others sensitivities to certain things." 

    At first the employee was not too happy stating that she really didn't wear much at all (she seemed a bit offended) and our Manager said, "That might be the case, but the amount you currently wear is too much for me and some others to handle so we need you to cut down."

    And it worked - I don't think she wears any perfume at all anymore from what I can tell. It wasn't the intent to have her not wear anything, but we're not all suffocating from the over use anymore! Since there are only 6 of us in the office we felt it best to just address her directly.

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