Banning Mandatory High Heels in the Workplace

Changes to the Occupational Health and Safety Code will protect the right of Alberta workers to wear shoes that put safety over style.

Amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Code by the Government of Alberta 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. 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.”

~Christina Gray, Minister of Labour

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 skeletal and muscular injuries.

“I worked under a mandatory high heel policy and now surgery is the only option to correct the damage done to my feet. 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.”

~Lisa Caputo, owner, Cibo Bistro

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, 2019.

Quick facts

  • The online survey used for the 2017 OHS system review indicates employers (78 per cent), workers (88 per cent) and health and safety professionals (82 per cent) favour changes that prevent clothing or footwear policies from creating a hazard to workers.
  • In 2017, Ontario and B.C. passed laws banning mandatory footwear policies that potentially create hazards for workers. In 2018, Manitoba passed a similar law.