Issue of October 1, 2017
Mt. Province

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No more mandatory high heels for working women

Twenty-three-year old Isabelle is working as a cashier in a supermarket located in one of the malls in Baguio City. She and other similarly situated workers are compelled by the management to wear high-heeled shoes. They are also deprived of sitting breaks.

Cashiers, salesladies and lady guards working in department stores and malls nationwide are in pain for walking and standing for long hours in high-heeled shoes.

But on Aug. 25, Department of Labor and Employment Sec. Silvestre H. Bello III issued Department Order 178. The order covers all private sector workers who are required by their employers or establishments to wear high-heeled shoes, those who stand at work for long hours, and those who have jobs which require frequent walking.

Citing health and safety issues, wearing high heels for a long period of time can also cause pain and long-term damage. Women should not be compelled to wear high-heeled shoes in the workplace, nor be deprived of a short span of sitting breaks to prevent health risks.

For the past years, women employees, for fear of censure from supervisors and lack of a genuine grievance mechanism in the workplace amid numerous anecdotal accidents involving high-heeled footwear, women are powerless in these circumstances and most of these women are contractual workers and have no union to represent them.

The order mandates business establishments to allow their workers to use comfortable footwear which does not pinch the feet or toes; well-fitted and non-slipping; provide adequate cushion and support to the arch of the feet; flat or low heels which are not higher than one inch and must be wide-based or wedge type. The allowable maximum height of the heel in working places is only one inch.

DO 178 also require employers to provide rest periods, and accessible seats where employees can perform their duties without prejudice in the performance of their duties.

The new order also requires installation of appropriate flooring or mats (wood or rubber floorings) to mitigate the impact of frequent walking or prolonged standing.

The employers, in consultation with the workers, may 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.

DOLE regional offices are tasked to inspect and monitor the implementation of the said order, which took effect last Sept. 24.

Article 168 of the Labor Code and Rules 1000 and 1960 of the Occupational Safety and Health Standards mandates the DOLE to formulate policies and implement programs to ensure the safety and welfare of workers in workplaces.

Employers who violate the order may face penalties under existing labor standards, but DOLE would first try to implement the order using a positive approach. It would assess adjustments that can be made in the long run.

For more information about DO 178-17, visit and

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