Not only are high heels difficult and painful to wear during an 8–10 hour shift when you’re on your feet the whole time, but it can also be very dangerous. Especially when walking into a slippery dishpit.

Employees in British Columbia are now no longer be required to wear heels at work. In a recent story by Bill Tremblay for Canadian Restaurant News, the issue of gender-specific footwear was raised on International Women’s Day. The leader of the Green Party, Andrew Weaver introduced a Private Member’s bill that would ban gender-specific footwear from the workplace.

Without naming specific establishments, Weaver noted that forced footwear is a problem in restaurants and bars in BC. “It happens in other sectors as well. Restaurants and bars are particularly concerning because people are on their feet for an awfully long time,” Weaver said.

High Heels in the workplace

The provincial government has since amended the existing footwear regulation of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. It specifies that footwear will be of design, construction and material which will allow the employee to perform their duties safely.

Despite the massive support and media attention the bill died when the legislature ajourned in March for the May election. The government was instead able to make changes to regulations rather than enforcing a ban.

According to Premier Christy Clark, the government thinks that the requirement for employees to wear heels in the workplace are just wrong and “That is why we’re changing this regulation to stop this unsafe and discriminatory practice and adding an enforcement element by WorkSafeBC.”

A relief for many residents of BC, we are curious to see if other Canadian provinces will follow suit.

Credit: Bill Tremblay, Canadian Restaurant News

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Lucy Cullen


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