Bill banning mandatory wearing of high heels in work place to be introduced
British Columbia Premier Christy Clark wears high heels while addressing the Council of Forest Industries convention in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday April 7, 2017. The British Columbia government has banned mandatory high heels in the workplace in a move to address "discriminatory" dress codes. Labour Minister Shirley Bond says requiring women to wear high heels on the job is also a health and safety issue. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kayla Goodfield, CP24.com
Published Monday, October 16, 2017 6:37PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, October 16, 2017 6:40PM EDT
Employers will no longer be allowed to enforce the mandatory wearing of high heels in the workplace after a bill is set to be introduced on Tuesday at Queen’s Park.
The bill, titled “Putting Your Best Foot Forward Act,” will be introduced by Davenport MPP Christina Martins in an effort to minimize the amount of women suffering from poor foot health.
Six per cent of Canadians suffer from foot injuries but women are four times as likely to have long term problems when it comes to foot health, according to the Canadian Federation of Podiatrists. The federation said this is likely caused by women wearing high heels for long periods of time.
“Ontario podiatrists see far too many patients with injuries in the workplace that are entirely avoidable that are caused by wearing footwear that is inappropriate or outright unsafe,” Doctor of podiatric medicine James Hill said. “Clinical evidence demonstrates that wearing high heeled shoes causes a much higher incidence of bunions, musculoskeletal pain and injury than those who do not wearing high heels.”
“Podiatrists treat foot pain and deformities in women twice as often as foot disabilities in men, often due to having to wear high heels in their workplace.”
Martins said the new bill will work to enhance the protections of workers.
“Workplace safety should always be the number one priority, safety at work should be as simple as buckling your seatbelt,” Martins said. “This legislation will help to make work in Ontario more fair, and protect workers in Davenport and across the province.”
The introduction of this bill comes in light of recent headlines that caught the attention of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
Back in March 2016, the Ontario Human Rights Commission put forward a policy position notifying employers of major restaurant and bar companies that female staff wearing “inappropriate clothing” including high heels could violate the human rights code. Many of these companies said at the time they had already implemented such adjustments to their dress codes.
However, in April 2016 an Edmonton worker at Joey Restaurants – a Vancouver-based chain with locations throughout Canada – suffered from bloody feet after she was required to wear high heels as part of the dress code during her training session with the company.
The 21-year-old woman was told she had to wear a minimum of a one-inch heel and a maximum of a three-inch-heel as per the training guide she received during her training. She said the pain from walking in the high heels led her to quit her position.
However, officials for the restaurant chain said there was a lack of communication around their guidelines as their current policy does not require wearing heels.
Government officials said the bill set to be introduced on Tuesday amends the occupation health and safety act to prohibit employers from requiring workers to wear footwear that is “not appropriate to the protection required for their work.”
The OHSA already states footwear protections for those working in confined spaces, construction, health care, residential facilities, industrial establishments, mines and mining plants.
“(This) ensures workers who may be susceptible to specific hazards or foot injury in these workplaces are protected by these regulations,” the news release said. “There is also a general duty for employers under OHSA to take every precaution reasonable for the protection of a worker.”
As well, B.C. premier Christy Clark voiced support for a bill back in March that would have also banned mandatory high heels in the workplace. But, instead of passing the bill Clark said she was looking for an “effective way” to make the fix, possibly including a change to regulations.