Government Equalities Office guidance: Dress Codes and Sex Discrimination – What You Need to Know

Dress policies for men and women do not have to be identical. However, the standards imposed should be equivalent.

This is according to the May 2018 guidance (pdf) from the Government Equalities Office (GEO) on dress codes.

This guidance has been written following a recommendation from the Parliamentary Women and Equalities Select Committee and the Petitions Committee.

It sets out how the law might apply in cases of sex discrimination where an employer requires female staff to wear, for instance, high heels, make-up, hair of a particular length or style, or revealing clothing.

The guidance finds:

  • It is advisable to avoid gender specific prescriptive requirements
  • Where someone meets the definition of a disabled person in the Act, employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to any elements of the job which place a disabled person at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people
  • Transgender employees should be allowed to follow the organisation’s dress code in a way which they feel matches their gender identity. If there is a staff uniform, they should be supplied with an option which suits them
  • Employers should be flexible and not set dress codes which prohibit religious symbols that do not interfere with an employee’s work.

Read the guidance (pdf).


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