The B.C. government has banned mandatory high heels in all workplaces, following a promise made by B.C. premier Christy Clark last month.
In a release today, the government states the requirement to wear high heels in some workplaces is a health and safety issue and it is amending the existing footwear regulation of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, under the Workers Compensation Act.
“In some workplaces in our province, women are required to wear high heels on the job,” said Clark in the release. “Like most British Columbians, our government thinks this is wrong. That is why we’re changing this regulation to stop this unsafe and discriminatory practice and adding an enforcement element by WorkSafeBC.”
The new regulation states:
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 new guidelines, drafted by WorkSafeBC, are expected to be available by the end of April.
This issue came to light due to a private member’s bill from BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver. “I couldn’t believe that in British Columbia in 2017, there are restaurants and bars that require women to wear high heels,” Weaver told Global News in March. “It’s not safe because you’re walking around in a greasy-floored kitchen. It’s not healthy because you’re standing up for nine hours putting pressure on your back in funny ways as well as your feet.”
Former server Simran Gill told Global News her feet would be covered in blisters and often bloody after working in heels, a dress code that was mandated by her employer. The pain caused her to quit her job after only four months.
“My feet were in so much pain from the attire I had to wear, that I literally could not take the job. The money just wasn’t worth it,” Gill said.
-With files from Jill Slattery and Jennifer Palma