A woman is petitioning the Government to overhaul workplace laws after claiming she was sent home without pay for refusing to wear high heels.
Nicola Thorp, 27, was employed by a temp agency, Portico, to work as a receptionist at PwC’s London office.
She says she turned up to work on her first day wearing flat shoes, but was told she needed to wear heels.
When she challenged the policy, she says she was sent home without pay.
She told HypeJudge: “I turned to a male colleague next to me and said ‘He’s wearing flat smart shoes. You’re not sending him home’.”
Ms Thorp said she had been working for Portico for two years by then, had worn flat shoes, and “no one had ever had a problem with it”.
She added: “I understand that businesses have to have dress codes in place, so that their employees look smart and formal, but I just don’t think that in 2016 high heels are essential for a smart appearance of a woman.
“It’s really opening up a dialogue between men and women, and individuals and corporations.”
In a statement, Portico’s managing director Simon Pratt said Ms Thorp arrived at work with “inappropriate footwear” that did not comply with the appearance guidelines she had signed.
“It is common practice within the service sector to have appearance guidelines and Portico operates them across many of our corporate locations.
“We have taken on board the comments regarding footwear and will be reviewing our guidelines.”
A spokeswoman for PwC said the company only became aware of the issue on 10 May – five months after it arose.
“The dress code … is not a PwC policy. We are now in discussion with the suppliers about the policy.”
Ms Thorp has begun a petition on the parliamentary website, which has already attracted thousands of signatures.
It reads: “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“Current formal work dress codes are outdated and sexist.”
Given the petition already has more than 36,000 signatures, the Government will respond to it.
If it gets more than 100,000 signatures, the petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.