We are writing to ask you to make religious freedom a key part of your Committee’s inquiry into human rights at work.
We were pleased to see freedom of thought, conscience, and religion in the terms of reference for this inquiry, and have submitted written evidence setting out our concerns.
Sadly, we know that 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. This is something experienced by people of other faiths as well.
- A Catholic Union survey in 2023 found that almost one in three responders had experienced discrimination at work on account of their faith.
- The Evangelical Alliance et al 2022 study found those who discussed their concerns with their employer, over 55 percent reported either not feeling listened to, or listened to but no change came from the discussion.
- The Christian Institute receives hundreds of legal enquiries from Christians every year (including 254 in 2022). Over the last fifteen years it been involved in successful litigation in several of the leading discrimination and employment rights cases including Lee v Ashers Baking Co., Smith v Trafford Housing Trust and Ferguson v The Kintail Trustees Ltd.
Your Committee’s inquiry provides an opportunity for Parliament to consider these problems in more detail and make recommendations for how freedom of religion at work can be properly upheld.
As part of this inquiry, we strongly encourage you to have a stand-alone oral evidence session on the theme of religious freedom at work to give you, and members of the Committee, the opportunity to hear evidence on this vital topic.
We would be pleased to assist you and the Clerks in setting up an oral evidence session and, if helpful, to provide witnesses for this session.
Freedom of religion should be just as important as other workplace rights. We hope that the problems that so many people of faith experience at work will not be overlooked and that you will use this inquiry to shine a light on these concerns and put forward recommendations for improvement.
Our organisations would be delighted to help in any way we can.