British Lawmakers To Debate Discriminatory Workplace Dress Codes

Members of the British Parliament will be convening on Monday to debate over prohibiting companies from imposing sexist dress codes, such as wearing high heels, on female workers.

As reported by Metro.co.uk, the debate was in response to a petition filed by a British woman, who called on the government to criminalize unjust workplace dress codes. Last year, her employer sent her home, without pay, for not wearing high heels to work.

At the time of writing, an informal poll launched by Metro.co.uk as to whether companies have the power to order their female employees to wear heels has garnered 89 percent votes for “No” and 11 percent for “Yes.”

Ms. Nicola Thorp, the Portico employee responsible for the petition, told ITV News that she was required by her former employer to wear “2in to 4in heels.”

The Government Equalities Office responded to the petition, stating that “Company dress codes must be reasonable and must make equivalent requirements for men and women. This is the law and employers must abide by it.”

“This Government is taking action to remove the barriers to equality for women at work, which is why we are tackling the gender pay gap, increasing the number of women on boards, increasing support for childcare costs and ensuring employers are aware of their obligations to pregnant women,” it added.

BuzzFeed reported that an inquiry was launched by the parliament because of the issue. Committees overseeing the inquiry found that one-fifth of the women who participated in the inquiry reported pain within 10 minutes of wearing high heels.

The inquiry also found that dress codes that require female workers to wear “makeup, high heels and skirts above the knee” make them feel “very uncomfortable” and “sexualized by their employer.”

Similar issues were brought to the forefront recently when U.S. President Donald Trump made headlines last month for his “dress like a woman” preference for female White House staff.

According to Forbes, an insider has told news publisher Axios that Trump “likes the women who work for him to dress like women.”

“We hear that women who worked in Trump’s campaign field offices—folks who spend more time knocking on doors than attending glitzy events—felt pressure to wear dresses to impress Trump,” the insider was quoted as saying by Axios.

Bloomberg BNA reported about the issue and said legal practitioners and HR specialists recommend that employers implement workplace dress policies that “present workers with a variety of options.”

“Others recommended gender-neutral dress codes and appearance standards that broadly focus on professionalism, neatness, cleanliness or whatever qualities the employer associates with its corporate image,”Bloomberg BNA said.

People who are interested to watch a live streaming of the debate can do so via the parliament’s website.

(Image Credit: Pexels and GIPHY 1, 2)

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