New bill would prohibit employers from requiring women to wear high heels in B.C.

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver call the proposed bill ‘an appropriate and overdue step.’

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver wants to ban B.C. employers from making high heels mandatory.

Weaver introduced a bill amending the Workers Compensation Act in legislature on March 8, in light of International Women’s Day.

“The next petition should be one requiring men to wear high heels for a nine-hour shift before they insist women do,” he said, quoting Samantha Power, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who criticized dress codes in the past.

“We are very far from an inclusive, gender-equal province, and today… seems an appropriate time to take this overdue step,” Weaver said.

As it stands now, there are some safety requirements for footwear in the Workers Compensation Act, but Weaver’s amended bill would prevent employers from having gender-based footwear requirements – specifically within the restaurant industry.

“Many employers require that female staff wear high heels,” he said, and “this footwear can be extremely uncomfortable and unsafe.”

Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Association, said he supports allowing woman to make their own choice when it comes to footwear, and that it’s a practice already being implemented by restaurants across the province.

“I think that most restaurants are completely on board with this, for a bunch of reasons but certainly [for] a health and safety one,” he said.

When providing best practices to its members, the association already suggests to make footwear requirements optional,” Tostenson said.

He added with the industry facing a labour shortage, it’s in the employers best interest to do “whatever they can to accommodate and retain employees.”

 


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