MP aims to bring '˜sexist' employers to heel

Linlithgow and East Falkirk MP Martyn Day reckons many employers are still 'inflicting' out-dated dress codes on hapless workers.

And this week he told a radio show about the first hand evidence he had heard from victims of gender discrimination.

The MP, a member of the Petitions Committee, is among those who think some firms and managers could be breaking the law by forcing workers to adopt “sexist” dress codes.

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His comments, on Good Morning Scotland, follow a petition launched by a woman who argues it should be made illegal to force women to wear high heels at work.

Nicola Thorp, 27, was employed as a temporary secretary by a firm which provides workers for a major financial services company.

She was sent home when she refused to accept she must wear two to four inch high heels - and decided to fight back.

Her petition drew 152,420 signatures, and will now be debated in Parliament on March 6.

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Mr Day said: “During the evidence period we heard from women who were told by their employer to dye their hair blonde, wear revealing outfits and reapply make up.

“It is extraordinary, but an all too common phenomenon, that in this modern age employers are dictating how women should dress.”

“Companies often do not consider whether their dress code may be discriminatory, whether it may breach the Equalities Act.”

“More guidance needs to be given to employers. The Government needs to work with ACAS and the Health and Safety Executive to make sure that effective guidance is published.”

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The Government’s equalities office says it takes the issue very seriously and will “continue to work hard to ensure women are not discriminated in the workplace by outdated attitudes and practices.”

The Petitions Committee and Women and Equalities Committee have now published a report which concludes that the Equality Act 2010 is not yet fully effective in protecting workers from discrimination.

It calls on the Government to take urgent action to improve the effectiveness of the Equality Act

It also recommends that the Government should review this area of the law and, if necessary, asks Parliament to amend it.

The report also calls for more effective remedies – such as increased financial penalties to act as a deterrent to employers who breach the law.