VICTORIA, BC. – Bosses in a Canadian province have been banned to force their female employees to wear high heels at work.
Scrapping a mandatory high-heel dress code, the government of British Columbia (BC) says the requirement is discriminatory as well as being a health and safety issue because they are dangerous.
“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 the release put out by Premier Christy Clark and Labour Minister Shirley Bond.
Footwear should be designed to allow workers to operate safely, it says.
The announcement of the ban comes after a provincial Green party politician in March introduced a bill in the BC legislature aimed at preventing employers from setting gender-based footwear requirements.
Andrew Weaver, Green Party leader for British Columbia, filed a private member’s bill on International Women’s Day in March which would have ended gender-specific dress codes.
The government eventually adopted an amended version of Mr Weaver’s proposal.
British Columbia’s Workers’ Compensation Act will “ensure 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”.
“This change will let employers know that the most critical part of an employee’s footwear is that it is safe,” Labour minister Shirley Bond said in a statement.
“I expect employers to recognise this very clear signal that forcing someone to wear high heels at work is unacceptable.”