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  1. ITV Report

Action urged to ban enforced wearing of high heels

The government rejected calls for a ban on enforced high heel wear. Credit: PA

More needs to be done to stop women being forced to wear high heels at work, researchers say.

Academics at the University of Aberdeen identified evidence that high heels increase women's attractiveness to men, but also a wealth of studies showing they raise the risk of developing musculoskeletal conditions and the chance of injury.

Earlier this year, a petition attracted more than 152,400 signatures asking for it to be made illegal for companies to require women to wear the footwear for their jobs.

It was set up after receptionist Nicola Thorp was sent home because she refused to wear heels at work.

The London temp arrived at PwC in flat shoes, but was told she had to have a 2-4in heel.

Nicola Thorp was sent home for not wearing heels. Credit: ITV News

The UK government rejected calls for a ban on enforced high heel wear, with ministers saying existing laws were adequate to deal with discrimination.

The researchers contrasted the response of the UK government with that of the Canadian province of British Columbia, which has changed the law to ban employers from requiring female staff to wear high heels.

Dr Max Barnish, who led the research, said: "From our review it is clear that despite the huge amount of evidence showing heels are bad for individuals' health, there are complex social and cultural reasons that make high heel wearing attractive.

"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."

Academics say high heels increase the chance of injury. Credit: PA

He added: "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."

Dr Heather Morgan, a lecturer at the university, said: "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 lawmakers 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.

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