August 18 2008 - The TUC has produced 'Working feet and footwear', a new guide for footwear at work. The authors found that several large city institutions and upmarket retailers include slip-on shoes or high heels in their dress codes for female staff dealing with the public. These types of footwear can be uncomfortable and lead to long-term foot problems - especially when staff have to stand for prolonged periods.
According to TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber:
"When researching case studies for the guide on footwear we were surprised how many times we found that employers' dress codes did not permit the wearing of comfortable sensible footwear by women.
"Heels may look glamorous on the catwalks and on Hollywood stars, but they're not appropriate for day-to-day work wear. These dress codes - apart from being blatantly sexist - can lead to long-term foot and back problems as women are forced to stand or walk around in high heels or ill-fitting footwear.
"Feet bear the brunt of the daily working life and instead of worrying about what their staff look like, employers should focus on the effect that the wrong shoes and prolonged standing can have. Employers should look at encouraging their staff to come to work in comfortable shoes and, where possible, provide the option of sitting."
Suitable footwear is required for certain situations. For example:
- Slip-resistant shoes are required in any working environment where there is a risk of slipping.
- Safety footwear must be provided where there is a risk of shoes being crushed or hit by an object, or even caught in machinery.
- Puncture resistant soles must be provided if there is the possibility of standing on nails or other sharp objects.
The TUC considers that employees should be allowed to wear footwear appropriate to their occupation, working environment, and feet. If safety or special footwear is required they must supply it at no cost to the worker. The guide can be found at: www.tuc.org.uk/extras/footwear.pdf.