RSS Feed

Legal Updates

More Articles: Latest Popular Archives

High heels and workplace dress codes: urgent action needed

Makbool Javaid

The Petitions Committee and Women and Equalities Committee have published a report which reveals the troubling experiences of workers affected by discriminatory dress codes. An inquiry was triggered by a petition started by Nicola Thorp, after she was sent home from work for refusing to wear high heels. The report, ‘High heels and workplace dress codes’,  reaches three main conclusions:

1. The Committees are concerned for the workers affected by discriminatory dress codes, many of whom are young women in insecure jobs who already feel vulnerable in the workplace. The Government has said that the dress code imposed on Nicola Thorp was unlawful, but requirements to wear high heels remain widespread. It is clear that the Equality Act 2010 is not yet fully effective in protecting workers from discrimination.
2. The Government has said that it expects employers to inform themselves about their legal obligations and comply with the law. This is not enough. Evidence was heard that, in certain sectors, breaches of the law are commonplace. Pushing responsibility onto employers to find out their legal obligations and comply is a strategy which is not working. The Government needs to do more and must do it quickly.
3. The Committees recommend three main solutions to the problem: for the Government to review this area of the law and to ask Parliament to amend it, if necessary, to make it more effective; more effective remedies for employment tribunals to award against employers who breach the law; and detailed guidance and awareness campaigns targeted at employers, workers and students.

The aim of this update is to provide summary information and comment on the subject areas covered. In particular, where employment tribunal and appellate court cases are reported, the information does not set out all of the facts, the legal arguments presented by the parties and the judgments made in every aspect of the case. Click on the links provided to access full details. If no link is provided, contact us for further details.  Employment law is subject to constant change either by statute or by interpretation by the courts. While every care has been taken in compiling this information, SM&B cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. Specialist legal advice must be taken on any legal issues that may arise before embarking upon any formal course of action.

Receive more HR related news and content with our monthly Enewsletter (Ebrief)