- Directory of Members
On 20 April 2017, the government published its response to the House of Commons Petitions Committee and the Women and Equalities Committee joint report on high heels and workplace dress codes. As you may remember, the Committees’ report highlighted that while the Equality Act 2010 may be clear in theory, its application to individual cases was not pragmatic. The report made the following recommendations for the government to provide for:
The government has rejected the changes that would require legislative change. Instead, the government has favoured an approach to address the issue with more detailed guidance and awareness campaigns. By way of example:
Whilst the talk of future guidance on acceptable dress code practices is to be welcomed, the government has still circumvented the key recommendation of the Committees’ report, which was to fundamentally review this area of nebulous law. The resulting difficulty is that there remains considerable uncertainty about specific provisions in the Equality Act 2010 and their application to dress code policies in practice. This issue is compounded by the lack of recent case law challenging discriminatory dress code practices. It remains to be seen whether the persuasive approach of more detailed guidance adopted by the government will actually work. As Maria Miller, who is chair of the Committee, summarised, the commitments made by the government to ‘increasing’ the awareness of women’s equality rights are welcomed, but there is still the need to ‘monitor how this changes women’s experiences of the workplace’ in practice.