Philosophical belief discrimination outlawed in UK

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Philosophical belief discrimination outlawed in UK

Laws banning discrimination at work on the grounds of philosophical beliefs similar to religion, religious beliefs and any religion come into force in Great Britain on 1 December, and go further than Australian laws.

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Laws banning discrimination at work on the grounds of philosophical beliefs similar to religion, religious beliefs and any religion come into force in Great Britain on 1 December, and go further than Australian laws.

The provisions of the new British Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 broaden out the meaning of religious discrimination, but do not cover beliefs such as support for a football clubs or political views.

The laws apply in England, Scotland and Wales. There will be separate laws for Northern Ireland.

The banning of discrimination on the grounds of ‘similar philosophical beliefs’ take the laws beyond the conventional interpretation of religion currently applied at the Federal level in Australia.

At the British workplace

According to the UK Department of Trade and Industry, the British laws cover discrimination in the workplace on the grounds of perceived as well as actual religion or belief. 

They also make it unlawful to discriminate against a person in relation to their employment because of their family or friends’ religion or beliefs.

The laws will come into play during the recruitment process, at work, on dismissal and other circumstances. The same applies to all parts of the vocational training process.

Pay and conditions, promotion, and transfers are also covered.

All workers in the public and private sector are protected, regardless of the size of the business. This includes officers appointed by the government and clergy.

People elected to office and who don’t hold positions that qualify as a job where they are paid and have to follow direction are not covered, the UK Department of Trade and Industry added.

In general

The British laws are being introduced as part of a raft of new religious and sexual orientation discrimination protections.  

‘Legislation will establish basic requirements in law so that people can no longer be denied jobs because of prejudice; so that harassment can be tackled promptly and effectively; and so that people have an equal chance of training and promotion, whatever their background', according to the UK Department of Trade and Industry.

‘There is evidence to show that the benefits for business are considerable. Yet, there is still a good deal of misunderstanding about equality.

‘The fact is that tackling discrimination helps to attract, motivate and retain staff. It helps employers make the best use of skills and experience.

‘It can lead to a more diverse workforce, new ideas and access to wider markets. In short, fairness and productivity go hand in hand.’

Australia

Australia has no specific Federal religious anti-discrimination laws, but religious discrimination is covered by the Federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986.

The Commonwealth does have the power to make specific Federal religious anti-discrimination laws.

The notion of what constitutes ‘a religion’ has been tested in the past, but at this stage the jury is still out.

A landmark case in 1983, the Church of the New Faith vthe Commissioner for Payroll Tax, found that the Church of the New Faith (the Church of Scientology) was a church for the purposes of pay-roll tax.

However, in reaching the decision The Full Bench of the High Court decided to try and define the threshold of religion but no agreement could be reached. 

For more information on the British laws go to the Department of Trade and Industry website.

For the 1983 Church of the New Faith vthe Commissioner for Payroll Tax go to the AustLii website.

 

 

 

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