Alberta Bans Mandatory High Heels Policies in the Workplace

Alberta currently allows employers to mandate that female employees must wear high heels in the workplace. But a late November amendment to the Canadian province’s occupational health and safety code is set to ban such company policies, effective January 1, 2019. More broadly, the amendment is intended to prevent companies from requiring employees to wear shoes that pose health and safety risks.

High heels are notoriously uncomfortable and increase the risk of slips, trips and falls as well as injuries stemming from rolled ankles. Additionally, prolonged use of high heels is known to contribute to the development of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), including but not limited to chronic lower back pain, shortened Achilles tendons, and alteration of foot shape. Such MSDs have long-lasting effects that can limit movement and cause major pain even years after one stops wearing high heels; most can only be corrected with surgery.

"I have heard from many Alberta women in the hospitality industry that this change needs to happen," Alberta Labour Minister Christina Gray said in a statement. "It's clear that forcing women to wear high heels at work is a bad idea… 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."

Alberta is the third Canadian province to institute a ban of mandatory workplace high heels policies; Ontario and British Columbia passed such bans in 2017. Manitoba is expected to introduce a similar ban this coming April.

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