22 Apr 2017

High heels row: Petition for work dress code law rejected

9:01 am on 22 April 2017

Calls in the UK to introduce laws banning companies from telling women to wear high heels at work have been rejected by the government.

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The petition on high heels got more than 152,000 signatures. Photo: 123rf.com

The Equalities Office said existing legislation was "adequate" but it would issue guidelines to firms this summer.

The issue was debated in Parliament in March after Nicola Thorp, who was sent home for wearing flat shoes, set up a petition with more 152,000 signatures.

Miss Thorp said the decision to stop short of a law change was a "cop-out".

She began her petition after being told to leave a temp job for refusing to wear a "2-4in heel".

A subsequent parliamentary investigation into heels and company dress codes found "widespread discrimination" in workplaces.

But Miss Thorp, an equality campaigner from London, said it was a "shame" the law would not be changed.

"It shouldn't be down to people like myself," she said.

"The government should take responsibility and put it in legislation. I do think it is a little bit of a cop-out."

Employers 'flout' laws - UK government

A government spokesperson said it was already against the law to discriminate on the grounds of gender - but that this could be made "clearer to employers".

"It is unacceptable," the spokesperson said.

"Dress codes must include equivalent requirements for both men and women."

On Friday, the government said the law was "adequate" in a formal response to the petition and investigation.

It said companies should assess whether their rules are "relevant and lawful".

"But we recognise that some employers lack awareness of the law or even choose to flout it," the government said.

It comes after an investigation by the parliamentary committee found "potentially discriminatory dress codes are commonplace".