Dress codes and sex discrimination

19 June 2018

The Government Equalities Office has issued new guidance on dress codes and sex discrimination.

The guidance follows a high profile case in 2016 when a receptionist was sent home for wearing flat shoes. It is a short and easy read. It looks at how to set a fair workplace dress code. The guidance acknowledges that dress requirements for men and women may not be identical. However, any policy must not discriminate against one gender.

The guidance gives employers helpful examples of policies which might discriminate and ones that do not. Asking all employees to wear smart shoes is fine as it applies to everyone equally. Asking women to wear high heels is not fine – high heels can negatively affect women because they are uncomfortable and can cause health issues. You can ask men to wear a shirt and tie as long as your female staff are also asked to wear smart clothes. The guidance also says that both men and women should be allowed to wear trousers in work.

Read the policy here

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