26/10/2021

Teaching Unions Call For Action On 'Outdated' Fair Employment Exemption

Northern Ireland's equality law must be changed to ensure that no teacher can be discriminated against when applying for jobs, regardless of their religion.

At the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Biennial Conference in Belfast today (Tuesday) teaching union, NASUWT, has called for a change to the Fair Employment and Treatment (NI) Order 1988 to remove the exemption regarding the employment of teachers in schools.

The current law allows for an exemption in relation to equality of opportunity and fair participation in employment for members of the Protestant and Roman Catholic communities in Northern Ireland.

The practical effect of this is that it is not currently unlawful to discriminate against someone in an appointment process on the basis of their religious belief.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said: "Discrimination is damaging to children's education and to the wellbeing and careers of teachers. This legislation is compromising efforts to tackle prejudice and hatred and conflicts with the goal of social inclusion which schools should be working to nurture and promote.

"No teacher should be denied opportunity to teach or to lead schools on the basis of their religious belief."

Justin McCamphill, NASUWT National Official Northern Ireland, said: "The exemption to the Fair Employment and Treatment Order is outdated and needs to be removed.

"We are calling on the First and Deputy First Minister to remove this and ensure that every teacher has equality of opportunity and is able to apply for work in any school regardless of their religion or perceived community background.

"Teachers should not have to wait any longer for the same employment rights as every other worker.

"Removing the teacher exemption is necessary to tackle endemic nepotism and lack of diversity in the teaching profession."

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

12 February 2020
Ministers Promote Cyber Security In Schools
The NI Executive has marked Safer Internet Day 2020 by highlighting the potential dangers of using digital technology in a bid to promote its safe use among children and young people.
14 January 2020
£45m Allocated To 18 NI Schools
Northern Ireland's new Education Minister has committed £45 million to 18 local schools in need of investment. The School Enhancement Programme will deliver capital funds to twelve primary schools, five post-primary schools and one special school to deliver the site improvements they have been crying out for.
29 July 2022
SDLP Welcomes Move To Introduce Compulsory RSE In Schools
The SDLP has welcomed a move to introduce compulsory relationship and sex education (RSE) in schools. SDLP East Derry MLA Cara Hunter has raised the issue numerous times in recent years and said she believed it would help tackle the issues that young people are experiencing in their relationships.
11 August 2022
Calls Continue For Action On Rising School Uniform Costs
Education Minister Michelle McIlveen has been urged to follow through with action on rising school uniform costs, Alliance MLA Nick Mathison has said. Mathison made the call in response to comments from the Minister made this week aiming to deliver a common approach on the issue.
13 October 2003
Conference focuses on employment law
A half-day conference focusing on recent developments in employment law could help reduce the number of small and medium sized companies (SME’s) in the north-west that fall foul of employment legislation.