MPs say employers with sexist dress codes should now be faced with 'substantial fines'

About time, too

Nicola Thorp
(Image credit: REX/Shutterstock)

About time, too

When jobbing actress Nicola Thorp was sent home form temp work as a receptionist at PwC for not wearing heels, she caused a national outcry when she asked how a company could get away with having a demanding dress code for women.

Their policy demands female employees to wear heels between two and four inches. Were the male employees expected to do the same? No. In fact, her question was only replied to with a raucous laugh.

An online parliamentary petition and 150,000 signatures later and MPs have finally taken notice. Now, a report entitled 'High Heels and Workplace Dress Codes' has come from the committee for Petitions and for Women and Equalities.

'This may have started over a pair of high heels,' Nicola Thorp has stated, '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. The current system favours the employer, and is failing employees.'

Technically, the Equality Act 2010 should see any discriminatory dress rules at work outrightly banned but it's obviously not worked in protecting women.

Helen Jones MP, chair of the Petitions Committee, has said: '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. And, it's clear from the stories we've heard from members of the public that Nicola's story is far from unique.'

Now, after realising how widespread these experiences are, MPs are saying that employers who make women wear heels, tight clothing or make-up at work should be fined.

Gender equality charity, The Fawcett Society, have stated that 'this also affects women at the top of public life as we have seen from headlines since Theresa May became prime minister. Having a society where it is normal to judge women in their professional life by their appearance and their shoes is not just ridiculous but demeans women who reach the top of their careers, and limits women’s participation in politics.'

And, now it seems that the general consensus is that gender neutral dress codes need to become the norm to move away from discrimination in the UK workplace.

Delphine Chui