The Minister responsible for higher education in England has expressed his concern at the results from a recent Catholic Union survey on faith in the workplace.
Writing to the Catholic Union, Robert Halfon MP, said “I was very disappointed to read about the poor experiences some Catholic employees face in HE [higher education].”
A survey carried out by the Catholic Union earlier this year found that almost one in three people had experienced disadvantage because of their faith, while half of responders said they did not feel able to talk to colleagues about their faith.
There were particular concerns raised about the situation in universities. One responder said: “I work at a university and public statements relating to my faith have been questioned in a threatening manner by my line manager”.
The Catholic Union wrote to a number of Ministers to highlight the survey and call for action to promote and uphold freedom of religion or belief in the workplace.
Commenting on the findings, Mr Halfon said “No one should experience unlawful discrimination or harassment for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief.”
In another response, the Policing Minister, Chris Philp MP, said “The Government is committed to ensuring policing is an inclusive workplace which reflects all the communities it serves, including our faith communities…”
The Catholic Union has also shared the findings from the survey with Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, which is carrying out an inquiry into human rights at work.
Catholic Union Director, Nigel Parker, comments: “I’m pleased that Ministers are engaging with us on this important matter. Our survey revealed that there is a lot of work to do when it comes to upholding legal protections for freedom of religion and belief in the workplace. While the initial responses from the Government are encouraging, people will rightly be looking for more than warm words. The scale of the problem uncovered by our survey should make politicians look again at the law and how these basic freedoms can be properly upheld. We’ll continue to do everything we can to help Catholics be true to their faith at work.”