Heels
More than 142,000 people have signed a petition urging a ban on women being forced to wear heels at work.Oli Scarff/Getty Images

British MPs have launched an inquiry after more than 142,000 people signed a petition calling for a ban on forcing women to wear high heels at work. As part of the inquiry into the matter, women are being invited to share their experiences if they have had an employer order them to wear heels.

According to the BBC, the petition was started by Nicola Thorp, a 27-year-old woman who was sent home from her job as a receptionist in London after she refused to wear high heels. Thorp said she had arrived for her first day at PwC wearing flats and was told to go home without pay unless she went out and bought heels that were between two and four inches high.

Thorp told the BBC last month: "I was expected to do a nine-hour shift on my feet escorting clients to meeting rooms. I said I just won't be able to do that in heels."

The government investigation has been launched by the Petitions Committee together with the Women and Equalities Committee and will look into what the problem is, what the law says about it, as well as what can be done to make the law better. The petition will also be considered for debate in Parliament after it received more than 100,000 28 days ago.

A number of women have already shared their experiences as part of the inquiry, raising issues from sexism to health concerns. Many said that dress code laws need to be altered so that women can wear flat formal shoes and not be told that heels are part of the company's "dress code policy".

One woman wrote about the impact heels have had on her health after being forced to wear at least 1.5cm heels at her workplace. She said: "I have had pain in my feet constantly for the duration of my two years there and now in the last few months I have developed leg pain and discomfort. I'm sure the fact that I'm on my feet for 8.5 hours a day, five days a week, contributes to the leg/feet pain but having the choice to wear slightly lower heels or flat shoes would alleviate the problem to an extent."

Women have been invited to share their experiences until 16 June, after which the comments will be funnelled into the government inquiry. A number of people will also be interviewed, and sittings will be broadcast live on Parliament TV.