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New law to prevent recruitment firms telling temps to wear heels, skirts or make-up

The Government Equalities Office is set to publish new rules later this month insisting that employment dress codes must have similar standards for both sexes, making it an offence to issue discriminatory dress codes.

The changes, according to the Daily Telegraph, come after last year’s rejection by the Government for a similar law. At the time it was believed the existing legislation was “adequate” and already prevents companies from gender-based discrimination.

Minister for Women, Victoria Atkins, commented that the new ruling was designed to help stamp out sexism in the workplace “Employers should be clear that they cannot have one rule for women and another for men,” she said.

The new guidelines will mean that recruitment firms cannot force their temporary staff to wear heels, skirts or make-up and comes after this particular area made headlines in 2016 when temp worker, Nicola Thorp was sent home from her receptionist job at PwC for failing to wear heels. At the time, according to the BBC, outsourcing firm, Portico said Thorp had "signed the appearance guidelines" but it would now review them.

A petition started by Throp after the event received 152,420 signatures, sparking a House of Commons debate, demanded that it be made illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work. 

A recent studyby Totaljobs provides evidence of the pressure woman are feeling in the workplace, with one third of women stating they feel pressured to look a certain way at work, with 76% constantly find it difficult to decide what is appropriate.

Concerns have also been raised as to the health and physiological dangers of being forced to wear high heels, with Dr Christian Allard DC, Clinic Director at ProBack, the UK's leading back pain clinic stating that prolonged wearing of heels has a detrimental effect on the position of the spine creating a low back extension and preventing proper curves of the spine which are responsible for about 80% of the shock absorption, potentially resulting in  the spine and discs taking some of the load and wearing faster.