Woman at centre of workplace heels dispute disappointed at delay in dress code guidelines

A woman who was sent home after she refused to wear high heels at work said she is disappointed that the Government is yet to publish new guidelines on dress codes.

Guidelines were expected to be issued last summer but officials have confirmed, more than six months later, that there is still no publication date.

While the Government last April rejected calls for company bosses to be outlawed from forcing women workers to wear high heels, it said it would produce guidelines to make the current law on dress codes clearer.

Nicola Thorp, who hit the headlines after revealing she was told she had to have a 2in-4in (5cm-10cm) heel when she turned up for work at PwC in flat shoes, questioned the length of time the guidelines are taking.

Nicola Thorp was sent home after she refused to wear high heels at work (Dave Thompson/PA)
Nicola Thorp was sent home after she refused to wear high heels at work (Dave Thompson/PA)

Ms Thorp, now an actress in Coronation Street, told the Press Association: "I find it disappointing and quite telling of our current Government that it has taken them this long to write a set of guidelines. It's something I could write for them in five minutes."

She said she understood the political landscape since Brexit has meant there may be different priorities, but maintained the issue of discrimination in the workplace is an important one.

"If the Government aren't going to do anything about it, it's up to activists, people like myself," she said.

"I receive emails almost every week, about women who are still losing their jobs over refusing to wear lipstick, high heels etc. There's so much more to be done."

Last year Ms Thorp launched a petition which attracted more than 152,400 signatures asking for it to be made illegal for companies to require women to wear the footwear for their jobs.

She said: "What was successful about the campaign and the amount of media attention that it received was that a lot more employers were aware that this is something that they shouldn't be requiring of their staff and particularly over the last six months with the Me Too campaign women have felt empowered to call it employers, to call out people in positions of power."

A spokesman for the Home Office, which works with the Government Equalities Office, said the guidelines will be published "in due course".

Ms Thorp spoke out a day after allegations emerged that hostesses were groped at a fundraising dinner in London.

Those working at the event were reportedly told to wear skimpy black dresses, black underwear and "sexy" black shoes.