SHOPPING malls and other businesses can no longer require their employees to wear high-heeled shoes in their workplaces, under a new order issued by the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE).
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd signed on Friday a department order (DO) setting standards and guidelines to ensure the safety and health of workers who have to stand for at least two hours at work.
“This shall apply to all workers who, by the nature of their work, have to stand for long periods at work, or are frequently required to walk, such as retail and/or service employees, assembly line workers, teachers and security personnel,” Bello said.
The DO will be implemented 15 days after publication in newspapers of general circulation.
Shoes with heels of 1 inch and above are prohibited, Labor Undersecretary Dominador Say said.
“We know that there are people, both men and women, who are more comfortable with heeled shoes,” he noted.
“But the heels should not be stiletto-type but wedge-type.”
The DO also requires employers to provide workers accessible seats, which can be small foldable stools, during rest periods or even during working hours, provided there is no effect on productivity and efficiency of the employees.
“This is not only for women but also for men because there are also male workers who are sometimes required to wear shoes with high heels,” Say added.
These requirements are covered by Article 132 of the Labor Code requiring employers to “establish standards that will ensure the safety and health of women employees.”
“Our main concern here is to ease the fatigue of workers whose line of work requires them to be standing for long hours or walk frequently. When we say long standing, this is at least two hours of standing,” Say said.
The DOLE won’t impose penalties on violators, but Say said punishment could be imposed later if employers did not comply.
“We will give as much leeway for the meantime to establishments to mandatorily comply without fear of penalty.
We want a positive approach,” the official said.
The new order also requires the installation of appropriate flooring or mats that will mitigate discomfort from frequent walking and standing.
Employers, in consultation with the workers, may also adopt other measures to address the occupational safety and health concerns of workers who have to stand at work for long periods or whose functions require them to walk frequently.