London – British Government on Friday rejected calls to outlaw sexist dress codes which laid down what women should wear at their workplaces.
Over 150,000 people signed a public petition to the British parliament, urging action after Nicola Thorp was told to go home from work without pay, after she arrived at PriceWaterhouseCooper to work as temporary receptionist in flat shoes.
Thorp refused to comply with the demand that she wear shoes with high heels.
However, the government promised new guidelines on dress codes would be issued in the summer, following the outcry.
The media in London reported that the government response to the petition meant employers could continue to insist that female employees must wear heeled shoes, provided it was a job requirement and men were made to dress to an “equivalent level of smartness.”
According to the government, existing laws are adequate and already prevent companies from gender-based discrimination.
As an alternative, the Government Equalities Office called on all employers to review their dress codes and consider whether they remained relevant and lawful.
The issue was discussed in parliament and women and equalities committees of the House of Commons who made recommendations to the government on workplace dress codes.
A parliament spokesman said that the government undertook to produce guidance during the summer and to explore other options for raising further awareness on the law on dress codes.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission had already run a social media campaign aimed at young women to promote awareness of the law.
According to MP Helen Jones, chair of the Petitions Committee, the petition and the inquiry had already done a great deal to improve public awareness of the law.
MP Maria Miller, chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, also said they welcome the commitments made by government to increase awareness of those rights.
“Hope that the next Government will monitor how this changes women’s experiences of the workplace,’’ Miller said.
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