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High heels and workplace dress codes web forum 

Petitions Committee

The Committee is investigating a petition it received on petition.parliament.uk asking the UK Government and Parliament to: "Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work."

The petition goes on to say:

"It's still legal in the UK for a company to require female members of staff to wear high heels at work against their will. Dress code laws should be changed so that women have the option to wear flat formal shoes at work, if they wish. Current formal work dress codes are out-dated and sexist."

If you've been personally affected by this issue we want to hear from you.

Your experiences will help us understand the problem. It will also give us an idea of how many people this affects and help us to decide what action to recommend to the Government.

When sharing your experiences, please include:

  • What were the circumstances that led to you being made to wear high heels? For example: what type of work was involved? Were you a permanent or a temporary member of staff?
  • Did you challenge the requirement? If so, what was the outcome?
  • Did you think that the requirement was reasonable?
  • What does a reasonable work dress code mean to you?

This forum is now closed. The deadline for comments was 10am Thursday 16 June 2016.

Message to contributors:

Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to share their experiences with us. The Petitions Committee, working with the Women and Equalities Committee, will now hold several 'oral evidence' sessions to continue gathering information on this issue.

Return to the high heels and workplace dress codes inquiry page

730 Contributions (since 08 June 2016)
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Total results 730 (page 73 of 73)

Charlotte

09 June 2016 at 01:43

I work in a five star hotel that has very strict uniform rules - must wear foundation, mascara, blusher and lipstick as minimum when at work, must wear skirt or dress - no trouser allowed, must have hair tied up neatly, tights no thicker than 20 denier, etc but one rule is to wear heels to work. I am a full time manager at the hotel and challenged the heel rule to be told that it helps women look more professional (and other sexist comments which i'd rather not repeat, along the lines of improving backsides) however, it causes horrific leg, back and of course foot pain. My little toe nails don't exist as they keep rubbing off due to heels and long hours and I'm no stranger to blood soaked tights. It needs to change as this shouldn't be the norm, men don't need to wear heels or make up so why do women? I understand that looking professional is important but there is a massive blurred line between professional and sexy and I don't need to sexually appeal to anyone to be considered professional.

Cat Crossley

09 June 2016 at 01:41

Working in a female dominated industry (publishing) I have not experienced the enforcement of wearing heels though I have experienced 'soft' enforcements when male bosses make positive comments when I wore heels and negative comments when I did not. As a junior, I sometimes bowed to this pressure. As a senior, I fought back and on behalf of any sexism my female juniors encountered. The debate might usefully include not only those egregious edicts requiring heels as uniform but also any behaviours which perpetuate a pressure to conform to certain dress codes or gendered visual 'standards'.

Rana El-Hoshi

09 June 2016 at 01:40

Genuinely the thing I dread most (and probably the only thing I dread in my day) about work. It is honestly so unbelievably painful especially if you are working in a luxury department store like myself which has marble floors, heels are the most painful thing to deal with, and while one is in pain, it shows on our faces and therefore impacts the way we are able to serve our customers. To be able to serve a customer in a fantastic manner and do our job properly, we have to be feeling comfortable. Furthermore, it us understandable that a company image is the most important thing but there are ways of maintaining this without putting women through pain. For example structured flats which have a square heel or even certain flat shoes can look classy. Enough is enough honestly because the pain from heels lasts me for days and impacts my everyday life.

Rebecca Russell

09 June 2016 at 01:32

I worked in a nightclub and on a Friday and Saturday they made it a requirement to wear high heels to work. I would spend up to 9 hours in these heels and my feet would be in agony, so much so that it would be painful to walk the next day. I did not only find this demeaning but also discriminatory, the men who worked there were never told what they had to wear on their feet.

Alison

09 June 2016 at 01:30

I have been made to wear high heels in my most recent office job. I was told that it was company policy. I have always struggled with high heels even for short periods, with my feet swelling and becoming unbearable to walk afterwards. Knowing this I wore flat sensible shoes and was challenged on numerous occasions to place heels on, to which I refused. The one time I did concede to their request I took a fall down a flight of carpeted stairs injuring my knee. There is no logical explanation why a woman should be made to wear heels. It in no way affects the quality of her work and with fashion now a days providing all types of smart flat footwear I do not see why women should be forced into uncomfortable and potentionally dangerous footwear tha could cause lasting damage and future problems. I hope my words are heard and that the law is changed in favour of women.

Marlene Vlachopoulou

09 June 2016 at 01:29

I used to work for a big hotel chain and was required to be on high heels. I honestly don't see how this should be a part of many major companies' core standards. It's really uncomfortable to be standing on your feet all day, let alone wearing such footwear. Not only that, but it's undoubtedly sexist. Unfortunately, there seemed to be double standards as well as I noticed I was the only to be wearing them whilst other girls would wear flat shoes, which I thought was terribly unfair.

Rachael

09 June 2016 at 01:29

I was a temporary member of staff at high profile shop in Knightsbridge, working a pop up whisky bar on one of the upper floors. On getting changed in the underground staff areas I attempted to walk onto the shop floor. I was stopped and told that all female employees must wear heels of 2 inches or higher. I explained that I was working in a bar, a food preperation area, and that I was very sure that no H&S assessment would have found it acceptable that I should handle knives while in heels on a wet floor. I found it incredible that they had to run this up to a higher manager who begrudgingly agreed that I could work in my flat shoes. I questioned if the female chefs needed to wear heels in their kitchens and was told I was making unfair comparisons. I can't see any good reason that women are deemed unfit to work due to the height of their footwear. The argument seems to be based in antiquated formality and founded on 'what people expect when they shop here'. A reasonable dress code includes the option to not wear damaging, dangerous footwear should you chose not to, for whatever reason.

Natasha

09 June 2016 at 01:27

When working for a tour operator high heels were part of the formal uniform that we were required to wear on airport transfer days. Working in a carpark with potholes and climbing up and down large steps of the coaches in the dark was dangerous. There was no negotiation on uniform standards. Heels are bad for your posture and give your feet bunions. They are unnecessary for any job and should not be mandatory for women only to wear, making it sexist. This is 2016 and in the UK, why have we still got such draconian and misogynistic uniform rules in place still?

Amy Hoff

09 June 2016 at 01:17

I lost a job I absolutely loved because I refused to wear high heels. I had been hired on as a temp worker for two months. When the position had a permanent opening I applied, interviewed, and was hired over the other candidates. I was a receptionist/gate guard, and all my coworkers were male. After agreeing to everything else, I was then told that I would need to wear a dress, neck scarf, and high heels to work every day, even though I had not done so for the last two months. I did not want to wear heels as they are painful and would interfere with my job. Needless to say I did not sign the dress code contract and left the position. They lost a very good employee who loved her job.

Emma Dunn

08 June 2016 at 19:56

While working in a high street clothing store, I was required to wear not only high heels but also make up. Having to wear high heels whilst on your feet all day is uncomfortable and all evidence suggests very bad for your health. It is also discriminatory for people who are overweight as it is harder to wear them. Women also should not be required to wear make up for work when men, obviously are not. Make up should be a personal choice and is in no way an indication of being professional.

Total results 730 (page 73 of 73)