Urgent action is needed to stop sexist dress rules in the workplace, a new joint report by MPs has found. 

‘High heels and workplace dress codes’, published by the Petitions Committee and Women and Equalities Committee, heard from female workers who had experienced harassment, as well as demands to reapply makeup and wear more revealing clothing while at work. 

The report follows a petition by receptionist Nicola Thorp, who was sent home from work in December 2015 because she was not wearing high heels. Her petition gained more than 150,000 signatures and led other women to come forward with their own experiences of discrimination. 

MPs in the two committees also found that health issues from wearing high heels were often ignored and existing equality laws need to be strengthened so that employers caught discriminating women can be held to account. It concludes that, despite the Equality Act 2010, discriminatory dress codes remain commonplace in some sectors. 

Rakesh Patel, Head of Employment Rights at Thompsons Solicitors, said: “It’s almost unbelievable that in 2017 there continues to be a marked divide between the treatment of men and women in the workplace.  I do not understand why wearing high heels would be necessary in order to portray a smart or professional image at work. 

“Nicola’s story has gained widespread media attention but, unfortunately, it appears to be far from an unusual piece. Employers should prioritise getting up to speed with their legal obligations on this issue. 

“The government must take heed of the report and the voices of tens of thousands of women, to ensure that the Equality Act is refined and enforced to ensure they are fairly treated in the workplace.” 

If you have been subject to discrimination at work, being a member of a trade union could mean you have access to free legal advice from Thompsons. Contact your union representative for more information or advice on whether you have a claim for compensation.