According to a study by Slater and Gordon, women are feeling pressured to dress “sexier” in order to project their jobs.
Respondents said that 7% of bosses requested their female workers wear high heels because it made them “more appealing” to clients. The worst found sectors were financial services and hospitality.
The results follow the high-profile case of Nicola Thorp, who started an official petition for a ban on women being required to wear heels at work after she was sent home in the City for wearing flat shoes.
Thorp told Sky News, “I turned to a male colleague next to me and said: ‘He’s wearing flat smart shoes. You’re not sending him home.'”
The survey revealed that 48% of men felt their dress code was more clearly defined and less likely to draw comment, although some admitted being asked to remove jewellery, cover tattoos or to get rid of their coloured hair.
Josephine Van Lierop, of Slater and Gordon, said: “Under current UK employment law, employers cannot treat one person less favourably because of their gender but there is no legislation to prevent employers from treating men and women differently in relation to dress code.
“Employers will argue that men and women must be dressed smartly or well-groomed for a person of their gender.
“However, in 2016 there is absolutely no expectation that women in business should wear make-up or high heels in order to be smartly dressed.
“Imposing this expectation on women only is arguably unlawful sex discrimination.”
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