NEWS & RESOURCES

High heels and the workplace

A House of Commons committee has been looking into workplace dress rules, this comes after a worker at an accountants in London, started an e-petition wanting a change in the law to stop employers making women have to wear high heels at work. The petition collected almost 150,000 signatures.

Nicola Thorpe organised the High Heels – Online Petition after her experience of arriving at work wearing flat shoes, only to be told she must go and purchase some high heels. Ms Thorpe refused to do so and was told to go home.

The House of Commons Petitions Committee and Women and Equalities Committee subsequently launched a joint inquiry into workplace dress code and discrimination. They listen to the experiences of both Ms Thorpe and Ruth Campion, an ex-British Airways cabin crew worker.

Ms Campion said that the strict dress codes she was expected to follow during her time at British Airways was, “a bit dehumanising and humiliating to be made specifically to wear items of uniform that sexualised my appearance or enhanced my sexuality”.

Ms Campion also told the committee that she was only allowed to wear skirts, not trousers, and was not allowed to wear cardigans at work, as her employer considered them to be “a bit frumpy and not very attractive”. There were also strict rules on make-up and nails, Ms Campion said: “A couple of times I was told that I had to reapply my lipstick and I wasn’t wearing enough make-up”.

The committee heard that Ms Campion was always expected to be wearing heels, even on the way to work, to her hotel and on board the plane.

Committee reviews like this can result in certain recommendations being made to government.

The Equality Act does already protect employees against unlawful sex discrimination at work. However, the findings of the committee could lead to an amendment being made in the Code of Practice about high heels.

Employers are allowed to enforce dress codes, and this can include different dress codes for male and female staff, provided that they are comparable. When it comes to something like high heels, there is not a similar dress code for men, so this could possibly be indirect unlawful discrimination if the employer cannot justify it.

Employers should be looking to review their workplace dress codes to make sure that they are relevant and fair. It may be important to ensure that all start project the right image of the company, but one gender should not be disadvantaged.

The committees are planning to hear more evidence on this issue in due course.

SHARE THIS:

Instagram

GET IN TOUCH

Got questions? Looking for advice?

GET IN TOUCH

Got questions? Looking for advice?

RELATED RESOURCES

Explore our comprehensive library of related resources to gain valuable insights, expert tips, and helpful tools for optimising your HR practices.

01
Changes to employment rights – holiday, working time records and TUPE
Legal Updates
14 February 2024
02
HR Solutions Virtual Employment Law Seminar
Webinars
12 February 2024
03
Menopause Awareness
Online Training
22 February 2024

MAKE A GENERAL ENQUIRY

We’re here to assist you with any questions or enquiries you might have. Simply fill out the form below, and our dedicated team will get back to you.

REQUEST A PROPOSAL FROM US

We’re here to assist you with any questions or enquiries you might have. Simply fill out the form below, and our dedicated team will get back to you.

BOOK YOUR PLACE

Please complete the form and one of our team will call you back to discuss your query/booking.

Request your free trial

Register your details below and we will contact you about your 30 day free trial of the HR Knowledge Base.

REGISTRATION FORM

Register your details below and we will contact you about access to the HR Knowledge Base.  As part of your approved industry membership organisation you can get access to the HR Knowledge Base, created by Business HR Solutions, which is the go-to resource for thousands of business owners and managers across the UK.

2023/2024 SME BUSINESS SURVEY

Our latest 2023/24 SME Business Survey sheds light on the intricate dynamics shaping the SME sector and unveils critical insights that can guide businesses toward sustainable success.

IF YOU WISH TO PURCHASE HR ADVICE LINE TIME, PLEASE COMPLETE THE FORM BELOW.

HR Solutions are here to help. We offer a standard hourly rate package for ad hoc HR advice which means you can pay for what you need, whenever you need it, and then quickly get advice. Our highly experienced advisors are on hand to provide you with practical employment advice to help you manage your workforce.  You can purchase HR Advice Line time now, and the time purchased will be valid for 12 months.