UK

High heels row: Inquiry launched by MPs following petition

Woman wearing high heeled shoes Image copyright Alamy

Women who have been made to wear high heels at work are being invited to share their experiences with MPs, as part of a new inquiry.

It was launched after more than 142,000 people signed a petition calling for a ban on forcing women to wear heels.

Nicola Thorp, 27, from London, set up the petition after she was sent home from her temp job when she refused to wear shoes with a "2in to 4in heel".

The deadline for comments is 10:00 BST on Thursday, 16 June.

The investigation - launched by the petitions committee - will look at what the problem is, what the law says and what could be done to make the law better, the government said.

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A government spokeswoman said it welcomed the debate and stressed that no employer should discriminate against their workers on grounds of gender.

The petition will also be considered for a debate in Parliament after receiving more than 100,000 signatures.

'Sexist policy'

On the Parliamentary web forum, one woman wrote that she had been required to wear high heels and make-up when working in a high street clothing store.

Emma Dunn said: "Having to wear high heels whilst on your feet all day is uncomfortable and all evidence suggests [it is] very bad for your health."

"It is also discriminatory for people who are overweight as it is harder to wear them."

She added: "Women also should not be required to wear make-up for work when men obviously are not."

Graham Sibley wrote that any firm's policy that forces women to wear high heels was "very clearly a sexist policy".

"It is almost as if female staff are being treated as if they are there for the amusement of men, or just to look attractive, which is blatant sexism" he said.

"In 2016, I'm astonished that this was still the case."

'Medical issues'

Another contributor, Lois Wilkins, said the uniform policy at a hotel where she used to work required women to wear at least 2in heels and had resulted in "medical issues for numerous female staff".

"I brought my concerns to HR and was simply told 'it is policy'. In the end I had to find employment elsewhere," she said.

The government website says petitions that reach 100,000 signatures are "almost always debated" and individuals who create petitions are sometimes invited to take part in a discussion with MPs or government ministers, or to give evidence to a select committee.

A government spokeswoman said: "No employer should discriminate against their workers on grounds of gender.

"We expect employers to act in accordance with the law, which is clear that dress codes enforced by employers must be reasonable and include equivalent requirements for both men and women.

"We welcome the opportunity to debate this issue, which is clearly of importance to a large number of people."

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