Teaching Unions Call For Action On 'Outdated' Fair Employment Exemption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.
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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NASUWT National Official Northern Ireland, said: "The exemption to the Fair Employment and Treatment Order is outdated and needs to be removed.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."

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