No more manda­tory high heels

Em­ploy­ers can no longer re­quire work­ers to use shoes that could pose safety risks

StarMetro Edmonton - - STAR METRO EDMONTON - AN­DREW JEFFREY thes­­gary

Win­ter tire re­bates en­cour­ag­ing Banff locals to use bi­cy­cles year round

think win­ter cy­clists are now, to be­ing a more nor­mal and ac­cepted way of get­ting around,” said Chad Townsend, Banff’s man­ager of en­vi­ron­men­tal ser­vices.

The pub­lic has al­ready taken ad­van­tage of this ini­tia­tive, as the 21 re­bates given out in the first week ac­count for more than a fifth of the pro­gram’s to­tal fund­ing. Bosses will no longer be able to re­quire their staff to wear high heels, the Al­berta gov­ern­ment an­nounced Fri­day.

In an an­nounce­ment at an Ed­mon­ton restau­rant Fri­day morn­ing, Al­berta Labour Min­is­ter Christina Gray noted how pro­longed high heel use has been as­so­ci­ated with work­place ac­ci­dents like trip­ping and fall­ing, painful foot con­di­tions, and skele­tal and mus­cu­lar in­juries.

The prov­ince plans to change Al­berta’s Oc­cu­pa­tional Health and Safety Code to elim­i­nate em­ploy­ers’ abil­ity to re­quire work­ers to use footwear that could pose health and safety risks, which means servers and bar­tend­ing staff won’t have to wear them. In 2017, On­tario and Bri­tish Columbia passed leg­is­la­tion ban­ning footwear that could be haz­ardous for work­ers. Ear­lier this year, Man­i­toba fol­lowed suit.

This amend­ment goes into ef­fect on Jan. 1.

“Af­ter work­ing al­most half my in­dus­try ca­reer in a work­place that de­manded un­safe and un­com­fort­able footwear, I’m left with chafed feet in the shape of di­a­monds from the shoes that I wore eight to 10 hours,” said Lisa Ca­puto, the co-owner of Cibo Bistro in Ed­mon­ton,

at the an­nounce­ment.

“It af­fects my every day now, and it’s been eight years since I’ve had to wear those shoes.”

This new amend­ment doesn’t ap­ply to footwear made manda­tory for safety rea­sons, like steel-toed boots.

This leg­is­la­tion comes on the heels of other prov­inces passing sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion in the last two years. In 2017, On­tario and Bri­tish Columbia passed leg­is­la­tion ban­ning footwear that could be haz­ardous for work­ers, and ear­lier this year, Man­i­toba fol­lowed suit.

Gray wanted to use this amend­ment to the health and safety code to ad­dress a gap that cur­rently al­lows for manda­tory high heel poli­cies. The labour min­is­ter wanted to en­sure work­ers’ safety was pro­tected, given how phys­i­cally de­mand­ing be­ing a server is.

“We’ve heard from Al­ber­tans that some em­ploy­ers have had manda­tory footwear poli­cies that put style over safety and re­quire fe­male servers to wear high heels,” Gray said.

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