Canadian province makes it illegal to require women to wear high heels

British Columbia amends workplace act saying high heels are a threat to employee health and safety

The provincial government in British Columbia, Canada, has amended workplace legislation to prevent employers to force women to wear high heels at work.

BC Green party leader Andrew Weaver filed a private members bill in March designed to prevent employers from setting varying footwear and other requirements based on gender, gender expression or gender identity.

Rather than adopting Weavers bill, the BC government instead amended footwear rules under the provinces 1996 Workers Compensation Act, which did not mention high heels.

In some workplaces in our province, women are required to wear high heels on the job. Like most British Columbians, our government thinks this is wrong. That is why were changing this regulation to stop this unsafe and discriminatory practice, said BC premier Christy Clark.

A mandatory high-heel dress code is a workplace health and safety issue, she said. 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.

Lynda Steele (@steeletalk)

Good news ladies! BC government is banning mandatory high heels in workplace. @CKNW

April 7, 2017

The minister for labour, Shirley Bond, acknowledged Weaver for starting the process. Id like to recognize and thank Dr Weaver … This change will let employers know that the most critical part of an employees footwear is that it is safe. I expect employers to recognize this very clear signal that forcing someone to wear high heels at work is unacceptable.

Amendments to the 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.

Employment experts say a broader discussion is needed about the pressures faced by women to spend more time and money on their looks than men, and the expectations in some industries that short skirts and lipstick are worn.

When you think about dress and physical appearance, women face higher standards in a lot of cases than men, Julie Nugent, vice-president of the Catalyst Research Centre for Corporate Practice told CTV news.

In May 2015, there was a backlash against the Cannes film festival when some women were reportedly barred from a film screening for not wearing high heels.

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