High heels out for female workers

FEMALE workers can now bid adieu to the high-heeled shoes they regularly wear at work.

The Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) on Friday signed a Department Order that will prohibit the requirement of female workers wearing shoes with heels that are beyond one inch.

"In summary, this DO provides that female employees will not be obligated to wear high-heeled shoes," said Dole Undersecretary Dominador Say in a press briefing.

He said heels that are one inch or less will still be allowed as many still prefer to have a little heel in their footwear.

"But the heels we shall allow will not be stiletto types but the wedge types," said Say.

Aside from the prohibition of the mandatory wearing of high heels, the labor official said they will also be requiring employers to provide all workers that are required to stand for a long period of time.

Say pointed that they want both male and female workers to be provided the chance to go on breaks, specifically to be able to take a seat and rest their legs.

"We are not just looking in the context of department store employees. The scope of this department order is for all employees. Even if you are a teacher since you need to stand up for an hour while teaching. Or you might be a worker on an assembly line, where you stand for a long time," said Say.

He said that the definition of jobs that require workers to stand for a long time are those that go for at least two hours without sitting.

"When we say standing, it is at least two hours they are required to just stand," said Say.

For his part, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said it is about time that the government does something to help address the working conditions of workers in specific industries.

He said he personally sees the challenges faced by female workers whenever he goes to department stores.

"I notice that many of the sales girls are leaning, crossing their legs. That only means that they have a feeling of inconvenience or they are uncomfortable with the standing position," said Bello.

Ma. Teresita Cucueco, director of the Bureau of Working Conditions (BWC), wearing high heels and standing too long can have short- and long-term adverse effects on workers.

"Once it is prolonged and it is in one position and it is more than two hours, it is going to give pain in the back and in the legs. It will start creating all of these symptoms of pain," she said.

"With prolonged burden in the joints, it could cause some problems in the spine, in the lower leg. And if this is not properly corrected, you can have arthritis and other debilitating muscular-skeletal disorder," added Cucueco.

Say said the DO is still set to be presented to the Tripartite Industrial Peace Council as required by law. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)
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