The government must enforce the law properly to ban sexist dress rules at work that discriminate against women, say MPs. The demand has come from two parliamentary committees, for Petitions and for Women and Equalities. Their report follows the experience of London receptionist Nicola Thorp, who was sent home from work in December 2015 for not wearing high heels. Her parliamentary petition on the issue gained more than 150,000 signatures. The joint report of the two committees, entitled High Heels and Workplace Dress Codes, found that the Equality Act 2010 should ban discriminatory dress rules at work, but in practice the law is not applied properly to protect workers of either gender. Helen Jones, MP, chair of the Petitions Committee, said: “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. The problem was exposed when Ms Thorp was sent home from her job at a London office of the big accountancy firm PwC. She refused to obey the then rules of her employment agency, Portico, that she should wear shoes with heels that were between two and four inches high. Ms Thorp argued that wearing them all day would be bad for her feet, and that her male colleagues were not asked to follow the same rules on their clothes. When the two committees looked into the issue, they were inundated with complaints from women who said they had been victimised by sexist rules about the sort of clothes they could wear at work. The examples of unlawful dress rules extended much further than just shoes, with the committee hearing about demands that some women should dye their hair blond, wear revealing clothes or re-apply makeup frequently. “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,” Ms Thorp said.

No Comments

Leave a Comment