Embargoed to 0001 Wednesday January 25 File photo dated 15/09/09 a male and female worker, as women workers have been told to dye their hair blonde, wear revealing outfits and constantly reapply make-up, a study into workplace dress codes has found.Dress codes which discriminate against women are still widespread in UK workplaces, a group of MPs has warned – with a report claiming current laws to prevent discrimination are not “fully effective”.
The Women and Equalities Committee’s investigation follows a petition calling for “outdated and sexist” dress codes to be changed so women have the option to wear flat formal shoes at work.
More than 152,000 people supported the campaign after Nicola Thorp, 27, lost her job as a receptionist because she refused to wear high heels.
The parliamentary committee’s report uncovered further examples of discrimination – hearing evidence from female employees who have been told to dye their hair blonde, wear revealing clothes, and use more make-up.
Ms Thorp said: “This may have started over a pair of high heels but what it has revealed about discrimination in the UK workplace is vital, as demonstrated by the hundreds of women who came forward.
“The current system favours the employer and is failing employees. It is crucial that the law is amended so that gender neutral dress codes become the norm.”
In its report, the Petitions Committee and Women and Equalities Committee said: “We call on the Government to review this area of the law and to ask Parliament to change it, if necessary, to make it more effective.”
It also concluded that more needs to be done to help educate employees so they understand how to make formal complaints and make the costly tribunal process easier.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady, commenting on the report, said: “Far too many employers are still stuck in the past when it comes to dress codes.
“It is unacceptable that in 2017 bosses are still forcing women to wear painful, inappropriate shoes and uniforms.
“But with employment tribunals costing up to £1,200 – even if you’re on the minimum wage – many women can’t afford to challenge sexist policies.
“If ministers are serious about enforcing equality legislation then they should scrap tribunal fees immediately.”
The report comes as new research from the Chartered Management Institute shows four out of five managers have witnessed some form of gender discrimination or bias in the last 12 months, such as women struggling to make themselves heard and getting paid less than a male colleague.