BC Today journalist Shannon Waters posted this photo on Twitter of journalists and staff wearing short sleeves at the B.C. legislature on March 28, 2019. (Shannon Waters/Twitter)

BC Today journalist Shannon Waters posted this photo on Twitter of journalists and staff wearing sleeveless or short sleeve dresses and tops at the B.C. legislature on March 28, 2019. (Shannon Waters/Twitter)

The dress code at British Columbia’s legislature has been updated to include sleeveless dresses, shirts and blouses for women after some women rolled up their sleeves in protest last Thursday.

Acting clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd said that same day Speaker Darryl Plecas directed her to review the legislature’s dress code policy to determine what is considered appropriate business attire for women. She said the current policy dates back to 1980. Plecas also issued a memorandum clarifying the current dress code.

The dress code from 1980 states that business attire generally constitutes layered clothing that includes covered shoulders.

The review came after at least seven female legislature journalists and one NDP staff official wore short-sleeved attire in defiance of the dress code.

On Monday, Plecas issued an update on the review to all members of the legislative assembly, all precinct staff and members of the legislative press gallery where he said he reported Ryan-Lloyd’s recommendations. The recommendations are:

  • That any dress guidance at the Legislative Assembly should be principle-driven and not overly prescriptive. We recognize and respect the good judgment of all Members, staff and Press Gallery members. All Members, staff, and press are encouraged to continue to wear professional business attire. Recognizing that the Legislature is a formal business environment, we are confident good judgement will be shown by all.
  • That for women, professional business attire includes a range of contemporary conventional options, which may include sleeveless dresses, sleeveless shirts, and blouses. For men, jackets, collared shirts, and ties will continue to be the expected standard of dress.
  • That for women, professional business attire includes a range of contemporary conventional options, which may include sleeveless dresses, sleeveless shirts, and blouses. For men, jackets, collared shirts, and ties will continue to be the expected standard of dress.
Plecas said the initial recommendations are preliminary guidance and any specific dress requirements should be implemented by all members of the legislative assembly, “perhaps as an amendment to the standing orders to support clarity and transparency regarding dress guidance.

Plecas also clarified that his memorandum on Thursday did not list not new rules nor were they arbitrarily imposed by him.

“The purpose of the memorandum was to provide clarity on current rules – which I am not in a position to unilaterally change myself from Members – and was in no way an endorsement them.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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