Dress Code and Sex Discrimination – What you need to know
The Government Equalities Office has published new guidance on Dress Codes and Sex Discrimination.
The guidance has been issued following a recommendation from the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Select Committee and the Petitions Committee. It specifies how the law might apply in cases of sex discrimination where an employer requires a female employee to dress in a particular way.
An employer requires female staff to wear high heels as part of a dress code but places no footwear requirements on men or merely requires them to look smart. This is likely to constitute direct discrimination on grounds of sex because there is not an equivalent standard imposed on male staff.
The guidance reiterates that dress code policies for men and women do not have to be identical but standards should be comparable, for example, by allowing both men and women to wear trousers in the workplace. It also warns that requiring gender specific items, such as high heels, is likely to be unlawful.
Your employee handbook and policies may be some of the first organisation documents that new employees see. ELiAction can update and amend your existing policies/procedures to ensure they are legally compliant, easy to use and in line with your ethos and culture.