No heels at work petition is rejected by Government

The call for a ban on sexist dress codes at work has been rejected by the Government.
high heels
Credit: AP

The rejection means that employers can now continue to request that female employees wear heels, on the basis that men are made to dress to an “equivalent level of smartness”.

The petition was debated in Parliament in March after Nicola Thorp (pictured), set up a petition with more 152,000 signatures.

Thorp arrived to work at PriceWaterhouseCooper as a temporary receptionist in flat shoes. She refused to comply with instructions to wear two to four inch heels, and was sent home, causing public upcry.

The Government ruled against a change in the law because it believes the existing legislation is “adequate” and eliminates gender-based discrimination from companies.

Instead, the Government Equalities Office has asked employers to review their dress codes and “consider whether they remain relevant and lawful”.

Plans also include providing workers with new guidelines in the summer, so that employees are made more aware of their rights.

A government spokesperson responded that it is already against the law to discriminate on the grounds of gender – but these guidelines could be made “clearer to employers”.

“It is unacceptable and is against the law, dress codes must include equivalent requirements for both men and women.”

Of the result, Thorp said that changing dress codes shouldn’t be down to her:

 “The government should take responsibility and put it in legislation. I do think it is a little bit of a cop-out.”

Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller, welcomed the new guidelines, stating that they created an ‘increasing awareness of those rights’, but felt that the government hadn’t gone far enough.

“This petition, and the committees’ inquiry, have reinforced the need for effective enforcement of legislation and for employers and employees to be aware of their obligations and rights,” she commented.

“We welcome the commitments made by the Government to increasing awareness of those rights, and hope that the next Government will monitor how this changes women’s experiences of the workplace.”

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