Guidance to be Issued on Workplace Dress Codes
Following 150,000 people signing a petition calling for a ban on dress codes that force women to wear high heels in 2016, the Government has announced guidance will be issued on workplace dress codes. However, there are no plans to introduce further legislation at this stage.
On 21st April 2017, the Petitions and Women and Equalities Committees published the Government’s response to their joint report on high heels and workplace dress codes.
The report called for the Government to take urgent action to improve the effectiveness of the Equality Act in preventing discriminatory practices relating to dress at work. In particular, the Committees urged the Government to introduce guidance and awareness campaigns to improve understanding of the law and workers’ rights, targeted at employers, workers and students.
The Government has accepted this recommendation and has undertaken to produce guidance during this summer and to explore other options for raising further awareness of the law on dress codes.
The original petition was set up following Nicola Thorp being sent home from accountancy firm PwC on her first day as a temporary receptionist for not wearing high heels.
The Government said the committee had uncovered practices “in some industries which appear sexist, unacceptable and potentially unlawful”, but that “the scope for redress already exists” under current legislation. Employees can raise a grievance with their employer and potentially make a claim to the Employment Tribunal.
Under the Equality Act, a dress code that makes “significantly more demands” of female workers was illegal”, the government stated.
Dealing with any HR and employment law issues can be a tricky and costly experience for any employer, and PCB would urge anyone with concerns about workers’ rights, to seek advice and guidance.