Unifor is supporting a new private member’s bill which would ban employers from requiring inappropriate shoes at work, such as high heels.
The bill, ‘Putting your Best Foot Forward’ Act would update the Occupational Health and Safety Act to ensure that women workers are not being put at risk of injury or being fired over sexist expectations that characterize uniform rules for many female employees. The proposed legislation, introduced by Toronto MPP Cristina Martins today, would particularly help women in the restaurant and hospitality industries.
“The sexist expectations of business owners should never outweigh a worker’s right to safety on the job – I’m pleased to see this bill going forward,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director.
“The Occupational Health and Safety Act needs to be updated to account for the reality of work for women workers who are not just employed in industrial sectors – but in restaurants, bars and hotels where unsafe footwear makes the job dangerous and can cause injuries.”
The new bill follows similar legislation in British Columbia passed last year. The Ontario Human Rights Commission also issued a policy paper in 2016 on gender-specific dress codes, indicating that women who work in restaurants and bars should not be forced to wear certain attire such as high heels, short skirts or low-cut tops.
Rizvi said she would like to see the legislation also take into account other problematic areas of uniform requirements and see an outright ban on gendered dress codes, which rely on sexist, discriminatory and deeply binary expectations of how women and men should look.
Approximately one third of Unifor’s 315,000 members are female.