Some U.K. airlines, banks and department stores are coming under fire from a watchdog group that released a report on Thursday alleging the employers force sexist dress codes on female workers, the Daily Mail reported.
The umbrella group of unions in Britain, the Trades Union Council, says some employers are mandating women wear high heels, which it deems "inappropriate footwear" that leads to long-term foot and back problems.
"Heels may look glamorous on the catwalks and on Hollywood stars, but they're not appropriate day-to-day work wear," TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said. "These dress codes, apart from being blatantly sexist, can lead to health problems."
The "Working Feet and Footwear" report claims a number of big companies make female employees wear slip-on or high heel shoes if their jobs require dealing with the public. The TUC declined to name the specific companies but said at least one department store as well as some airlines and city institutions are culprits.
"We were surprised how many times we found employers' dress codes did not permit the wearing of comfortable footwear," Barber said.
The Trades Union Council calls itself "the voice of Britain at work," according to its Web site. "With 58 affiliated unions representing nearly 7 million working people from all walks of life, we campaign for a fair deal at work and for social justice at home and abroad."