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Workplace dress code law could help prevent foot problems

Monday 30th January 2017
How might potential changes to workplace dress code laws in the UK affect podiatrists workloads? Image: AntonioGuillem via iStock
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Changes may be made to current workplace dress code laws so that it becomes illegal for female employees to be forced to wear high heels at work, it has been revealed.

Members of parliament have published a report examining the current state of dress code laws in the UK following a widely-reported news story in 2015 concerning a woman who was sent home from her job for refusing to replace her flat shoes with a heeled pair after pointing out their her male colleagues were not expected to do the same.

Women who wear high heels for long periods of time are significantly more likely to suffer from back, lower leg and ankle pain, as well as other foot complaints such as bunions and blisters, meaning they often require the services of a podiatrist.

However, it is not just high heels that women are being forced to wear, as the recent investigation carried out by two Commons committees also led to the discovery that many women are asked to wear skirts instead of trousers or are expected to adhere to strict rules regarding hair and make-up, while their male counterparts are simply told to dress smartly.

The report stated: "We heard from hundreds of women who told us about the pain and long-term damage caused by wearing high heels for long periods in the workplace, as well as from women who had been required to dye their hair blonde, to wear revealing outfits and to constantly reapply make-up."

These findings highlight that workplace dress codes are not only sexist in many cases, but are also causing health problems for many, leaving long-term high heel-wearers with bunions, ankle pain, sore lower calves and a whole host of other foot problems that require medical attention from a podiatrist.

As a result, introducing legislation so that female workers no longer have to experience these types of pain could see podiatrists' workloads lightened, leaving them with more time to spend treating patients with other kinds of foot and ankle problems.

Written by Angela Newbury

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