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Sunday, 20 June 2021

UK high heels at work petition hits parliament

AFP , Thursday 12 May 2016
High heels
File photo of high heels. (Photo: Reuters)

A British petition against forcing women to wear high heels at work topped more than 100,000 signatories on Thursday, meaning it will be considered for debate in parliament.

The petition was launched on Monday by Nicola Thorp, 27, who turned up to work at consultancy PwC in December in flat shoes, but was told she had to have two-to-four-inch (five-to-10-centimetre) heels.

When she refused, and pointed out that her male colleagues were not required to do the same, she was told to go home without pay, she said.

"Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work," the petition is titled.

"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," it says.

"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."

Thorp, an actress between jobs, was employed as a temporary worker by Portico, PwC's outsourced reception firm.

Portico said Thorp had "signed the appearance guidelines", but said they had now changed their policy to make it clear that flat shoes were allowed.

Companies can tell employees what to wear for reasons including health and safety, and maintaining a corporate image.

Thorp told the BBC: "The supervisor said... 'we only have women in heels at reception', and I said, 'well, I think that is ridiculous'.

"I pointed to a male colleague and said, 'well, he is wearing flat shoes, why can't I?', and of course that is laughed at.

"They then said to me, 'you can go out and buy a pair of heels if you like, we will let you work'. I refused and was sent home."

After passing more than 10,000 signatures, the petition is already due to receive a government response.

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