Many workers still affect sexism within the workplace thanks to the clothing they have to wear, unions have said.

It comes after Norway was fined 1,500 euros (£1,295) for wearing shorts rather than bikini bottoms at the ECU Beach Handball Championships.

But what about other sectors and industries ?

Sexism in workplace uniforms was banned in 2018, but the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Unison say it can still be a haul.

So what can your Employer ask you to Wear?

Requiring women to wear high heels could be unlawful "with all the discomfort and inherent health issues these can cause, because it treats women less favourably than men", according to government guidance.

Dress codes for men and ladies do not need to be identical, but where a rule exists for one sex, the standards imposed on the opposite should be equal.

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Natasha Davies from gender equality charity Chwarae Teg said: "This latest story [Norway] highlights once more the sexism and inequality that ladies still face.

"Whether it is a requirement to wear a skirt, make-up or high heels, or a scarcity of appropriate PPE that matches, women still be disadvantaged by outdated attitudes within the workplace.

"While there are some legal protections in situ, the onus remains on the individual to require action and potentially take an employer to a tribunal, which may be a costly experience."


The TUC and Unison highlighted problems with uniforms not being designed to fit females bodies.

Leanne Holder, the owner of the automotive business BecauseRacecarBox and a competitor in Formula Woman, said there are problems with clothing in male-dominated industries, like racing suits not fitting properly.

Miss Holder, 28 years old from Narberth in Pembrokeshire, said: "Unfortunately the motorsport and automotive industries are still male-dominated despite some amazing females being stepping up and competing against the lads.

"With racing equipment barely being tailored towards the ladies shape, it's apparent that we have got an extended thanks to going when it involves creating complete equality within the sport.

"Having racing suits that are baggy, the Velcro not having the ability to be pulled in enough at the waist and not tons of room for breasts are often really off-putting when eager to consider the racing and not on discomfort."

Miss Holder said one racing suit for females has recently been designed, but otherwise, they need worn men's suits in smaller sizes.

"I do think concerns get taken seriously, more so in the last few years, however, I do think that there is a lot to do still to change the stigma and prejudgements surrounding female drivers and there are tons more to be spoken about within the gender differences within motorsport."

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Rhianydd Williams, equality officer for Wales TUC, added: "We have done tons of labour on the menopause and uniform comes up quite bit there, often manmade fabrics are hot, can make the wearer feel sweaty and are generally not suitable.

"One of the workplace recommendations that our union reps have made is to vary staff uniform to natural fibre.

"Another aspect is hair workplace policies, there are some department shops where there are is hair codes, this disproportionately affects black females, who are not allowed to wear their hair naturally to work."

Unison highlighted that uniforms should be designed specifically for pregnant females, saying "there may be a world of difference between something designed for a pregnant woman and just bigger clothes".

Ill-fitting equipment can even become dangerous, like within the case of private Protective Equipment (PPE).

Unison said much of the PPE sourced at the start of the pandemic was modelled on white men's "meaning that it had been unlikely to be as reliable" for females.

Jane Gebbie from Unison said: "That is unforgivable and shows how skewed society is towards men, even in those sectors where employees are overwhelmingly females."


Yes, but if a type is placed on one sex, the same standard must also exist for the opposite.

Miss Williams said: "In 2008 a male policeman challenged a code. It said that ponytails were not allowed so he wore his hair during a slicked-back bun and was told that he must cut it off.

"He argued that he was being treated less favourably than a female who was allowed to wear her hair during this manner and argued discrimination on the thought of sex. He won his case.

"So within the case of the Olympics, wearing bikini bottoms is much more likely to be considered a sexualised item of clothing, whereas cycling shorts have fewer of the same connotations.

"We are very clear that the dress codes placed on many ladies athletes are sexist, they're wrong, and that they aren't necessary."


"I would argue strongly that make-up could also be a private choice rather than smart work wear," Miss Williams said.

"So if the code required workers to wear smart office wear then which may not mean that make-up was essential."

Transgender employees should be allowed to follow a code during how they feel matches their identity, the government guidance says.

If there is a staff uniform, they ought to be furnished with an option which suits them.

What if my employer asks me to wear a sexist uniform?

The guidance, from the United kingdom government but applying to Wales, advises employees to initially speak to their manager, and check out to resolve the difficulty in-house.

They can take the interest tribunal, but Miss Davies from Chwarae Teg said this will be "costly" and places the onus on the worker.

Miss Williams said: "The reality is that a lot of workers do affect sexism within the workplace due to the garments they are required to wear.

"We want to make sure workers know that the law is on their side which unions can help them if employers breach the law. And we want to remind employers of their legal duties."

A Welsh government spokeswoman said: "We do expect that every one employee across Wales is treated with dignity and respect in their place of labour."


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