Spotlight on Dress Codes

09 February 2017

The Government should address the problem of discriminatory dress codes. That’s according to a report by the Petitions Committee and the Women and Equalities Committee.

The Government should address the problem of discriminatory dress codes. That’s according to a report by the Petitions Committee and the Women and Equalities Committee.

The report comes after a petition calling for it to be illegal for employers to require female staff to wear high heels at work was signed by more than 150,000 people.

Key findings of the report include:

  • Discriminatory dress codes are still commonplace in some sectors.
  • Women are damaging their short and long-term health and wellbeing by wearing high heels for extended periods of time. There is evidence, too, that disabled women and older women who are required to wear high heels are disproportionately affected.
  • Many employees don’t feel able to challenge their dress codes, and more awareness of workers’ rights and ways of enforcing them is needed.
  • In many cases, dress codes are imposed without employers recognising the potential harm that those dress codes might cause. Employers are not considering their legal obligations to protect employees’ health and wellbeing and to avoid discrimination.

And of course, it’s not just about footwear. Women also reported having been required to dye their hair, wear revealing outfits and to reapply make-up. Dress codes can apply to all aspects of a person’s appearance and, while many are perfectly legitimate, there’s a very clear challenge here for employers in staying on the right side of the law.

To download a full copy of the report click here.


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