Sep 5 2023

Three Christian organisations have urged a parliamentary inquiry to investigate concerns about religious freedom in the workplace. Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights is running an inquiry into human rights at work and is currently holding evidence sessions.

The Catholic Union, Christian Institute and the Evangelical Alliance have written to the chair of the committee, Labour MP Harriet Harman, calling for religious freedom to be made a “key part” of the inquiry. While the terms of reference for the inquiry include “freedom of thought, conscience and religion”, the Christian organisations are concerned that this section risks being overlooked. They have called for a stand-alone evidence session on religious freedom at work to inform the final report and recommendations to the Government.

In their letter, the organisations say, “Too many Christians are unable to bring their whole selves to work, and in some cases face disadvantage or discrimination because of their faith, despite laws that should prevent this from happening.” They have urged the cross-party Committee to “shine a light on these concerns and put forward recommendations for improvement”.

Catholic Union Director Nigel Parker said, “Sadly, we know it is becoming increasingly difficult to be a faithful Catholic in many workplaces in this country.” He added, “Our survey on religion in the workplace earlier this year found that almost one in three responders had experienced disadvantage at work because of their faith, with nearly half of people saying they did not feel able to talk about their faith openly with colleagues.”

Christian Institute deputy director Simon Calvert said, “Religion has long been the Cinderella strand of discrimination law. Many employers show little interest in seeking to understand the challenges faced in the workplace by devoutly Catholic or evangelical staff.” – The Tablet