The Guidelines for Protected Beliefs under the Equality Bill
Written by Geoff Newman on 24/06/2010
It has been quite confusing for HR management to understand the Equality Bill guidance that was recently released. They are unable to determine which protected beliefs come under the Equality Bill. The Equality and Human Rights Commission published the Employment Statutory Code of Practice, which indicates that vegans, atheists and scientologists should be given the same protection as religious groups are given against any sort of discrimination. But the government has stepped back by stating that religious beliefs and other things cannot be categorized in the same group.
All such statements have left HR professionals confused because the Equality Bill aims to provide equal rights to each individual employee, and their rights should be protected so that they feel secure while working in a certain organisation. The working environment must be flexible for every worker so that they are able to perform their best without any strings attached.
But many individuals see this guidance as a positive approach towards the Equality Bill, as more and more issues that employees face in a working environment can be addressed. But it is up to the employer to look for reasonable equality among their employees and to resolve the issue of whether or not vegans and atheists should have the same protection against anti-discrimination as many religious groups possess.
Apart from vegans and atheists there are many beliefs that need to be protected under the Equality Bill. One of such groups is Feng Shui believers, who avoid using the number 4 in their meeting rooms or working desks. They need a certain kind of protection, as their beliefs are quite different from other people’s. Employees or workers who are purely vegetarians and avoid any contact with non-vegetarian food should be provided with a separate fridge, just as vegans should be provided with non-leather chairs.
Pacifists working in an organisation should be protected against any client who deals with weapons manufacturing. There are many individuals who are categorized as environmentalists and they require certain time off to participate in protest marches or other religious events.
The above mentioned are a few beliefs that need to be protected under the Equality Bill because it is very necessary to understand the moral, religious and other social beliefs that every individual has, and every possible action should be taken to ensure that no one feels like they are under threat. No one’s beliefs should be harmed in any way at all. It is very important to provide a working individual with an environment in which he or she is comfortable to work. An employer who respects the beliefs of his employees would benefit a lot from his employee’s skills and abilities when they feel respected.
But it is very important to clarify which beliefs should be protected under the Equality Bill, because otherwise it will become confusing for HR professionals to provide equal rights to every single individual.