Government should 'tackle' practice of making women wear high heels to work, researchers say

About time [Photo: Getty]
About time [Photo: Getty]

Just months after MPs called for a ban on sexist dress codes, a Scottish study is putting pressure on law makers to toughen up legislation regarding wearing high heels at work.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen conducted a review of scientific studies into the shoes and their physical impact upon the body, concluding that more needs to be done to stop women wearing high heels against their will in the workplace.

Besides recounting plenty of previous studies that showed wearing heels can increase your risk of injury, bunions and developing musculoskeletal conditions, it also acknowledged that wearing them has a social function too – to look attractive.

Pain and no gain [Photo: Pexels]
Pain and no gain [Photo: Pexels]

The study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, also drew comparison between policy in the UK and that in British Columbia, Canada.

While in the UK, the government has simply pledged to develop new guidelines and raise awareness about the issue but hasn’t introduced new legislation, across the pond they’ve actually prohibited employers from requiring staff to wear heels.

Dr Heather Morgan, a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, said on the University’s website: “Of course we are not trying to tell anyone that they should or shouldn’t wear high heels but we hope this review will inform wearers to help them weigh up the health risks with social benefits, as well as putting pressure on law makers to toughen up legislation so that no one is forced against their will to wear them in the workplace or in licensed public social venues.

Women must be allowed to choose [Photo: Pexels]
Women must be allowed to choose [Photo: Pexels]

“However, expectations are not always explicit and some may feel forced even if the law protects them.”

While Dr Max Barnish, who lead the study, also said: “We feel the UK government should follow the lead of other authorities who have introduced specific laws to tackle this practice rather than simply relying on existing legislation which has left the situation in this country uncertain and open to misinterpretation.

“Also, this matter has in the UK been so far addressed through UK-wide equality laws.

“However, there may be scope for the devolved nations of the UK such as Scotland to consider introducing further measures under devolved health legislative powers.”

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