A parliamentary joint committee is being urged to include concerns about religious freedom in the workplace in its latest inquiry into human rights at work.
The Catholic Union, Christian Institute, and Evangelical Alliance have written to the chair of the committee on human rights, Labour MP Harriet Harman, requesting for religious freedom to be made a “key part” of the inquiry.
Catholic Union Director, Nigel Parker, comments: “Sadly we know it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a faithful Catholic in many workplaces in this country.”
“Our concerns are shared by people from other denominations and other faiths as well. This joint letter shows the strengthen of feeling about this matter. We strongly hope that the Committee will take these concerns seriously,” he added.
Earlier this year, a Catholic Union survey found almost five in ten workers don’t feel able to talk about their faith openly with colleague, with 41 per cent of respondents saying they didn’t believe religious discrimination was given the same weight as discrimination against other protected characteristics, such as age, race, sex, and sexuality.
Although the inquiry's focus includes "freedom of thought, conscience, and religion," the Catholic and Evangelical groups worry this might not receive enough attention. They want a separate session to discuss religious freedom at work to help shape the final report and recommendations for the Government.
They're asking the Committee of MPs and peers from different parties to highlight these worries and suggest ways to make things better.
Christian Institute Deputy Director, Simon Calvert, said: “Religion has long been the Cinderella strand of discrimination law. Christians who take their faith seriously can feel overlooked, or even marginalised, by the Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion industry. Many employers show little interest in seeking to understand the challenges faced in the workplace by devoutly Catholic or evangelical staff. I hope the Joint Committee on Human Rights will give a voice to these people.”
Evangelical Alliance Director of Advocacy, Danny Webster, said: “It is essential that Christians, and people of other faiths, are able to bring their whole selves to work. Someone’s faith is not an optional extra that can be disregarded or ignored but an integral part of their lives. We encourage the Joint Committee on Human Rights to make the role of faith in the work place a central part of their inquiry into human rights at work.”