The Government of Alberta has announced amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Code that will explicitly prohibit employers from requiring workers to use footwear that may pose health and safety risks.
“I have heard from many Alberta women in the hospitality industry that this change needs to happen. It’s clear that forcing women to wear high heels at work is a bad idea,” said Minister of Labour Christina Gray. “This is an important change that will help create healthy work environments where workers can do their jobs safely and not be forced to use footwear that creates potential hazards.”
The change will provide clarity and prohibit employers from requiring servers and bartending staff to wear high heels. Prolonged high heel use is associated with workplace trips, slips, falls, painful foot conditions and musculoskeletal injuries, the government said.
“I worked under a mandatory high heel policy and now surgery is the only option to correct the damage done to my feet,” said Lisa Caputo, owner, Cibo Bistro. “Working in an environment that prioritizes safety and comfort over looks creates a welcoming workplace. This change will protect women’s safety and will help to change the way women are viewed in the workplace.”
The new rule does not apply to mandatory footwear for safety reasons, such as steel-toed footwear required on construction sites.
The change takes effect Jan. 1.
In 2017, Ontario and British Columbia passed laws banning mandatory footwear policies that potentially create hazards for workers. In 2018, Manitoba passed a similar law.