MPs demand ban on sexist dress codes at work

Woman kicking off heels
[Photo: Getty]

In the past year, a spotlight’s been shone upon some of the awful sexist dress codes imposed on women – from telling us how to shave to saying we have to wear high heels.

And it turns out that MPs have been listening, as some have said the government should introduce fines for businesses that impose dress codes that discriminate against women.

The demand has come from two parliamentary committees – Petitions and for Women and Equalities – and their report, High Heels and Workplace Dress Codes, has concluded that the Equality Act 2010 should ban such rules at work – but that it hasn’t been applied properly in practice.

Woman being interviewed
[Photo: Pexels]

It recommends launching a publicity campaign to make employers aware of their legal obligations, and inform employees on how to complain.

Most of all, it says that the existing laws against discrimination should be enforced more strongly, and that employers found doing so should have to pay compensation to the workers they affect.

The report comes following the case of Nicola Thorp, who was sent home from work without pay for not wearing high heels to her job at an accountancy firm last year.

Career woman at table
[Photo: Getty]

Thorp argued that wearing heels all day would be bad for her feet (quite rightly), and that her male colleagues didn’t have to follow the same requirements.

And the parliamentary petition she created as a result gained more than 150,000 signatures.

The issue stretches beyond heels, too – in December last year, a London hotel came under fire for issuing strict beauty rules upon women such as having “regular manicures” and wearing “full make up”.

MP and chair of the Petitions Committee Helen Jones told the BBC: “The government has said that the way that Nicola Thorp was treated by her employer is against the law, but that didn’t stop her being sent home from work without pay.

“It’s clear from the stories we’ve heard from members of the public that Nicola’s story is far from unique,” she added.

Have you ever felt pressured to comply to sexist dress codes at work? Tweet us at @YahooStyleUK.

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