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High Heels for work

Does your company have a dress code? If it does you need to make sure that it is relevant and fair. Employers can enforce dress codes for male and female staff as long as they are comparable.

This follows a petition by Nicola Thorp who was sent home from work, without pay, for not wearing high heels of between two and four inches high.

So unless employers want to state that ALL employees must wear heals, short skirts and make-up they could end up at a tribunal for indirect sexual discrimination.

Employers must be able to show that their dress code is proportionate, and that its purpose is to achieve a particular business aim. For example, a policy on hair style could not be enforced if it is only concerned with appearances, but could be enforceable if health and safety reasons require staff to tie their hair back.

A high heels policy could indirectly discriminate against women, provided the complainant can show that the policy puts her at a disadvantage. Given the health issues associated with wearing high heels, this argument has merit. The employer would have to defend its dress policy and demonstrate that it has a genuine business interest for the policy. But in this instance, it could be argued that smart, flat shoes would be just as appropriate.

The Equality Act protects employees against unlawful sexual discrimination.

For more information on policies and procedures for your business or help to become an amazing employer call Nichola on 07946541606. Email

Coulthard Human Resources helping businesses become amazing employers.

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