Department store Debenhams is the first retailer to sign up to a code for the fair treatment of models used in its photo shoots and TV ads.

The retailer is the second signatory, following fashion magazine Vogue. The code, devised by Equity, assures that models will get a pre-agreed maximum length of working hours, breaks and refreshment will be provided, and any semi-nudity is agreed in advance.

The code also sets out that private changing areas will be provided.

“Fair treatment of everyone who models for us has always been a priority. The code firmly cements our ambition. We hope others follow our lead,” said Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp.

The move builds on Debenhams’ current guidelines which ensures that no one under 16 is used to represent an adult and that no models are used who are under a size eight.

The retailer last month launched a look book to promote positive body image. The imagery within the press information featured an amputee, three models over 40 - including one nearing 70 - a paralympian athlete and size 18 swimwear model.

Dunja Knezevic, a working model and current Chair of Equity’s Models Committee, said: “Debenhams is not only positively employing models who represent the body image more typical of women in the work place, but they are treating models with the same care as a good employer.

“This new development will give the public confidence that Debenhams is treating models with the respect that they would expect to receive in the workplace. We can only hope that other major retailers will follow their example”.