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BC to ban mandatory high heels in the workplace

Last Updated Apr 7, 2017 at 1:35 pm PDT

(iStock Photo)

The province feels women being forced to wear heels may lead to physical injury due to slips and falls

Initial private member's bill on the issue was presented by the BC Green Party

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The BC government is doing something it said it would do by banning mandatory high heels in the workplace. The announcement came out of Victoria this morning.

“The requirement to wear high heels in some workplaces is a workplace health and safety issue. There is a risk of physical injury from slipping or falling, as well as possible damage to the feet, legs and back from prolonged wearing of high heels while at work,” says Minister of Jobs Shirley Bond in a statement.

This means the government will move to change the existing footwear regulation of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation under the Workers Compensation Act.

“The amended regulation ensures that workplace footwear is of a design, construction and material that allows the worker to safely perform their work and ensures that employers cannot require footwear contrary to this standard. To determine appropriate footwear, the following factors must be considered: slipping, tripping, uneven terrain, abrasion, ankle protection and foot support, crushing potential, potential for musculoskeletal injury, temperature extremes, corrosive substances, puncture hazards, electrical shock and any other recognizable hazard,” the minister adds.

WorksSafe BC will work to develop a workplace guideline for workers and their employers to reflect the new law. That is expected to be completely by the end of this month.

The initial private member’s bill on the issue was presented by the BC Green Party earlier this year.

Ian Tostenson with the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association says the industry is more than ready to make any adjustments because of this decision.

“What we want as a gues from a restaurant is someone who is happy, moving fast and delivering food. Not someone who is awkwardly trying to navigate through a restaurant in high heels.”

He believes most restaurants have already started to give workers the choice of what to wear on their feet.

“The nice thing here is that a woman has the choice and that’s how it should be. No one should be telling a woman what to wear on their feet. We want to be professional, we want to make sure it’s appropriate but certainly to say ‘you have to wear high heels’ that’s really old school and we’re glad it’s gone.”