High-heels! It’s off to work we go!

Do you have a decent (and fair) office attire policy?

It was  pretty hard to miss the coverage in the media this week about Nicola Thorp, the woman who was sent home from work for refusing to wear high heel shoes. Her employer, Portico, provides reception staff to PwC in London, and when she refused to wear the ‘2-4 inch heel’ specified in their dress code, she was sent home.

As with many thing nowadays, it didn’t take long for the story to go viral on social media, with photos of bleeding feet everywhere, and by the end of the week a petition to ban the forcing of women to wear heels at work had reached over 100,000.

It’s unlikely that any reasonable employer would be happy for their staff to work with bleeding feet, but according to employment law firm Thompson, UK employers can dismiss staff who do not meet “reasonable” dress code demands, as long as they’ve been given enough time to buy the right shoes and clothes. They can set up different codes for men and women, as long as there’s an “equivalent level of smartness”.

With summer just around the corner and people wanting to wear lighter clothing, it is important to communicate to your team just what is acceptable attire in the office, without favouring one sex over the other.  Is it fair to expect the men to wear a suit and formal shoes if the ladies can wear strappy tops and sandals?  Or for men to wear short sleeved shirts if women are expected in blazers?  Make sure you have a clearly communicated policy to avoid bad feeling both inside and outside your business.

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