MPs will debate workplace dress codes in Parliament

Members of Parliament will debate the discriminatory workplace dress codes in Parliament, in less than two weeks time.

An online petition, which is calling for the government to make it illegal for companies to require women to wear high heels at work, will be discussed by MPs.

The petition, launched by receptionist Nicola Thorp, reached over 150,000 signatures.

Thorp created the petition after she was reportedly sent home from a job at accountancy firm Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC), where she was employed by the temp agency, Portico.

It was reported that Thorp was sent home from work after refusing to wear high heels for her nine-hour shifts. Portico recruited the reception staff for PwC and Thorp claims to have been sent home without pay.

Thorp, 27, from Hackney, East London, arrived for work in December 2015 with flat shoes but was told that she had to wear “2in to 4in heel”.

Further to the debate, Thorp’s petition also triggered an inquiry from the Petitions Committee and Women and Equalities Committee. Their report, ‘High heels and workplace dress codes’, revealed that there were widespread experiences of workers being affected by discriminatory dress codes.

The committees recommended that the government take urgent action to improve the effectiveness of the Equality Act. They also called for more effective remedies, such as increased financial penalties, for employment tribunals to award against employers who breach the law, in order to provide an effective deterrent.

The introduction of guidance and awareness campaigns targeted at employers, workers and students were also called for, to help improve the understanding of the law and workers’ rights.

In response to the enquiry, Thorp said, “This may have started over a pair of high heels, but what it has revealed about discrimination in the UK workplace is vital, as demonstrated by the hundreds of women who came forward via the Committees’ online forum.”

“But employees should be able to speak out about workplace discrimination on a platform other than an online message board, without fear of losing their jobs.”

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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