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Employers get a dressing down over dress codes

BY Anita Mulholland
Employment Law & HR
BG Purple

The House of Commons Petitions Committee and the Women and Equalities Committee have responded to a petition demanding that requiring female staff to wear high heels at work be made illegal. The online petition gathered more than 150,000 signatures following the news that a London receptionist, Nicola Thorp, was fired from her job at a top accountancy firm for refusing to wear high heels.


The government's position is that no further legislation is required as it is already unlawful for employers to force female staff to wear high heels. However, the report recommends that the government reviews the law and puts in place more effective remedies for female staff whose health and wellbeing is compromised by their employer through sexualised dress codes. Existing Acas guidance on dress codes was also criticised and the report recommends that the Government Equalities Offices works with Acas and the Health and Safety Executive to publish updated guidance by July 2017.


Meanwhile, the TUC has released results of a survey which suggests that 52% of women experience sexual harassment at work, although most choose not to report it. The sexual harassment reported by the majority of the 1,500 women surveyed included unwanted sexual advances as well as sexual comments about their bodies or clothes. 

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