Head of our Employment Law team, Julia Beasley shares her thoughts of the ongoing high heels rowApril 24, 2017
It’s no surprise that calls for a new law banning companies from telling women to wear high heels at work have been rejected. The reason we’re not surprised, is that there already is a law in place banning sexist treatment of women at work. If you’re in doubt about your workplace dress code, call us for advice on your employment rights.
The Equality Act 2010 prohibits unlawful discrimination on grounds of sex. This means that the overall standard of dress expected of both sexes must be the same.
Problems arise in practice because employers can impose different dress codes for men and women. In some offices for instance, a smart business dress code might require men to wear ties. It might require men not to wear skirts. Could it tell women not to wear trousers? Or to wear high heels?
Julia Beasley, Head of the Employment Law Team, believes such attitudes are ripe for challenge:
“Bosses in the 21st century cannot force women to dress in a particular way purely to be attractive to men. My view is that tight skirts, cleavages and high heels at work belong with Mad Men, not modern women.
“We have the right to feel comfortable in our clothes, just as men do. The smart but sensible approach doesn’t seem to have held back Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany! UK bosses would have a hard time trying to turn back the clock – especially when the employee has a great employment solicitor on her side.”