Bosses banned from forcing women to wear high heels in Canadian province

Those wearing the style of shoe face discrimination and physical injury, British Columbia's government finds

Niamh McIntyre
Saturday 08 April 2017 12:46
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‘Forcing someone to wear high heels at work is unacceptable,’ says Canadian minister
‘Forcing someone to wear high heels at work is unacceptable,’ says Canadian minister

The Canadian province of British Columbia has banned dress codes which require female employees to wear high heels at work.

The local government ruled that these requirements are a health and safety issue, putting workers at risk of slipping or falling as well as long-term injuries to the feet, legs and back.

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.”

Mr Weaver also welcomed the new laws, saying women wearing heels at work faced “sexism, objectification, bleeding feet, sore knees, hips, backs and long-term damage”.

MPs recently debated discriminatory dress codes in the UK, after a petition calling for a ban on women wearing high heels at work gathered more than 150,000 signatures.

Nicola Sharp, a receptionist, started the petition after she was sent home from work for refusing to wear high heels.

The Petitions Committee, which considers public petitions presented to Parliament, published a report which included testimony from hundreds of women about the pain caused by wearing high heels over prolonged periods.

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