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MPs support move to ban sexist dress rules

25 January 2017

Improved application of the Equality Act 2010 has been advised by MPs within a joint report issued by the parliamentary committees for Petitions and Women and Equalities.

Employment tribunals should be empowered to award larger financial penalties for those found to be at fault, MPs have stated.

The High Heels and Workplace Dress Codes report is the culmination of a number of initiatives that have been set in motion following the sending home of London receptionist Nicola Thorp without pay in December 2015 for not wearing high heels.

A parliamentary petition raised by Ms Thorp gained more than 150,000 signatures, considerably exceeding the 100,000 mark required to action a debate in Westminster.

MPs have also gathered evidence from women asked to unbutton blouses and wear shorter skirts, according to the BBC.

They also heard of dress codes detailing nail varnish shade and colouring of hair roots.

Petitions Committee chair Helen Jones MP said it was clear from the evidence gathered that Ms Thorp's experience "is far from unique".

Ms Thorp was also quoted by the BBC: "This may have started over a pair of high heels, but what it has revealed about discrimination in the UK workplace is vital, as demonstrated by the hundreds of women who came forward via the committees' online forum."

Portico, the agency employing Ms Thorp in December 2015, said it fully supported the report's recommendations and welcomed the parliamentary debate.

It further stated it had "immediately updated" its guidance on uniforms when the issue was raised.

Further recommendations by MPs within the report include a publicity campaign to ensure that employers realise all legal obligations and that staff know how to raise complaints.

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