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18th April 2017

Government promises action on workplace dress codes

At the start of this month, in the House of Commons, MPs discussed an e-petition relating to workplace dress codes and high heels. The petition was signed by over 150,000 people who called for the requirement for female employees to wear high heels at work to be made illegal.

Following the petition, the chair of the Petitions Committee published a joint report with the Women and Equalities Committee on high heels and workplace dress codes.

Discriminatory workplace dress codes

Caroline Dinenage, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, stated that the government intends to take action to tackle sex discrimination in the work place which includes discriminatory dress codes. The government’s position is that current discrimination law is adequate, however it does acknowledge that some employers are unaware of the law or choose to disregard it.

During the debate the government told the House of Comments about the progress being made, for example:

  • The government is developing guidance for employers (working with ACAS, the EHRC and the Health and Safety Executive) including looking at recommendations in the recent report;
  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission has already taken action to raise awareness on social media and is considering how to improve enforcement of matters under the Equality Act 2010;
  • The government expects sectors highlighted in the report to review dress codes; and
  • The Government is looking at how it can improve employee awareness and the understanding of the legal protection available to them.

The Government will be issuing a response to the report later this month which should shed some light on how the government plans to deal with this issue which has drawn recent media attention.


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