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MPs are calling on the British government to enforce laws that protect women from being forced to wear revealing and painful clothes at work.

They cite a case where a woman was sent home from work for not wearing high heels.

After being sent home from work she started an online petition which garnered 150,000 signatures.  Nicola Thorp was sent home in December 2015 for wearing flat shoes.

MPs say they have heard from women whose employers demanded they wear shorter skirts, unbuttoned blouses, and employers dictated the colour of their nail varnish and hair root colour.

A joint report has been written entitled “High Heels and Workplace Dress Codes.”  The report was put together by the parliamentary committees for Petitions and Women and Equalities.

The MP’s claim that the Equality Act 2010 should prevent discriminatory dress rules at work, but it is rarely applied.

Helen Jones MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee said, “The way that Nicola Thorp was treated by her employer is against the law, but that didn’t stop her being sent home from work without pay.

“It’s clear from the stories we’ve heard from members of the public that Nicola’s story is far from unique.”

Enforcing the Act

One of the recommendations to enforce the law and to educate women as to their rights over the issue is to launch a publicity campaign.  This will not only ensure that employees know the law, but employers do as well.

Its key recommendation, however, is that the law is enforced more vigorously with employment tribunals able to apply larger penalties to offending firms.  It goes on to say that offending employers should be forced to compensate every employee for their sexist rules.

The issue with tribunals is that it now costs a minimum of £230 for employees to bring a claim, and for unfair dismissal it costs just under a £1000.

Portico, Ms Thorp’s then employer said it welcomed the debate.

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