The government has petitioned high-risk sectors to warn employers away from demands for women to wear heels in the workplace.
Junior equalities minister Caroline Dinenage revealed today that she had written to trade bodies in a raft of sectors, asking them to remind employers of their responsibilities.
Sectors targeted include hotels and tourism, travels and airlines, temporary employment agencies, corporate services and retail. Dinenage added that the government is also developing guidance for firms.
“We want the UK to lead the way on gender equality in the workplace,” she said.
It came after MPs demanded action from the government on women being forced to wear high heels in a debate in parliament.
More than 150,000 people signed a 2016 petition set up by Nicola Thorp, who was sent home from a temporary job at PwC after refusing to wear shoes with a two- to four-inch heel.
Thorp's petition led to an inquiry by MPs, with a subsequent report jointly published by the petitions and women and equalities select committees.
Responding to Dinenage's comments, petitions committee chair Helen Jones welcomed the action to alert trade bodies in particular.
“A message needs to go out every clearly today that employers need to review their practices in this area,” Jones said.
“Anyone who suggests that a woman can only do their job in three- or four-inch heels, A – does not understand the job and, B – has never spent a day in heels.”
In its entirety, Thorp's petition said:
It's still legal in the UK for a company to require female members of staff to wear high heels at work against their will. Dress code laws should be changed so that women have the option to wear flat formal shoes at work, if they wish. Current formal work dress codes are out-dated and sexist.