Nicola Thorp launched a petition to ban companies from forcing women to wear high heels at work (Picture: PA)
A petition to ban companies from forcing women to wear high heels at work has been rejected by the government.
The Equalities Office said existing legislation was ‘adequate’ but it would issue guidelines to firms this summer.
Nicola Thorp, a receptionist at the time, launched the petition pushing for changes in the law after she was sent home from PwC because she turned up in flat shoes.
Her petition attracted more than 152,400 signatures asking for it to be made illegal for companies to require women to wear high heels.
The petition has now been rejected after the government claimed there were laws already in place that were ‘adequate’ to deal with discrimination (Picture: AP)
But the government have now said the laws already in place were ‘adequate’ to deal with discrimination.
Ms Thorp, who now works as an actress, said: ‘It’s a shame they won’t change legislation. It shouldn’t be down to people like myself.
‘The Government should take responsibility and put it in legislation. I do think it is a little bit of a cop-out.’
A government spokesman said: ‘No employer should discriminate against workers on grounds of gender – it is unacceptable and is against the law. Dress codes must include equivalent requirements for both men and women.
Her petition reached more than 150,000 signatures (Picture: petition.parliament.uk)
‘To make the law clearer to employers and raise awareness among employees, the Government will be producing new guidance on workplace dress codes.’
But Ms Thorp insisted that firms should not be able to distinguish between men and women.
She said: ‘As it stands, the Equalities Act states an employer has the right to distinguish between a male and female dress code as long as they are not deemed to be treating one sex more or less favourably.
‘Unfortunately, because of intrinsic sexism and the way in which business works in the UK, when employers are allowed the freedom to decide what is fair and unfair it tends to be women that lose out.’
MP Maria Miller has said ‘equality legislation is not sufficient to achieve equality in practice. (Picture: BBC)
An investigation by Commons committees found that some female staff have been told by their bosses to dye their hair, have manicures and wear revealing clothes.
They were also expected to climb ladders, move furniture and walk for great distances in heels, while others were told to unbutton their blouses when dealing with male customers.
Maria Miller, who chairs the Women and Equalities Committee, said: ‘Equality legislation is not sufficient to achieve equality in practice.
‘This petition, and the committees’ inquiry, have reinforced the need for effective enforcement of legislation and for employers and employees to be aware of their obligations and rights.
‘We welcome the commitments made by the Government to increasing awareness of those rights, and hope that the next Government will monitor how this changes women’s experiences of the workplace.’
Helen Jones, who chairs the Petitions Committee, said: ‘This petition, and our inquiry, have already done a great deal to improve public awareness of the law.
‘It is nevertheless very welcome that the Government has accepted our recommendation that it should be doing much more to improve understanding among employers and employees alike, to prevent discriminatory practices in the workplace.
‘I very much hope that the next Government will honour the commitments made in the response to our report.’