Heels-work

Theresa May has been urged to set an example to sexist employers and the British public by discarding heels and wearing flat shoes to formal meetings.

As the Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference voted unanimously for the law to be changed “to enable people to not be compelled to wear high heels at work”, a delegate said the prime minister should wear pumps, flats or comfortable shoes at the despatch box.

It follows the case of a London receptionist who said she was sent home from work at a corporate finance company after refusing to wear high heels.

Penny Robinson, a GMB delegate at the conference, who seconded the motion, said May should put heels to one side and show that women can wear flats.

“Our new prime minister might be well known for her leopard-print kittens, her leather boots and of course her Jimmy Choos, but if she really wants to advance the cause for women in the workplace, there are two things she can do.

“The first is to make a point of wearing pumps, flats and comfortable shoes for her cabinet, PMQs and for meeting all those EU leaders.

“Let the media see that you can be the most powerful woman in the country without needing to wear designer shoes to meet men’s expectations. Women are still expected to wear completely inappropriate shoes every day just to make sure that the right image is portrayed for the employer.

“If anything is truly going to change, we need to deal with the people at the very top. And luckily enough, we now have someone running the country who can set an example for the rest of us by making a point of wearing sensible shoes,” she said.

The London receptionist, Nicola Thorp, arrived on her first day at PwC in December in flat shoes but says she was told she must wear heels.

Thorp, who was employed as a temporary worker by PwC’s outsourced reception firm Portico, said she was laughed at when she said the demand was discriminatory and sent home without pay after refusing to go out and buy a pair of heels.

Portico said it set the uniform rules for staff but would review its guidelines.