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Fair Employment

Volume 170: debated on Friday 20 April 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will publish a list of types of employment in each church-based society or organisation in Northern Ireland for which the Fair Employment Agency and/or Commission has advised that the successful applicant must belong to the same religious denomination as the church-based society or organisation which is inviting applications to fill vacancies.

Neither the Fair Employment Agency nor the Fair Employment Commission has ever advised any organisation that a successful applicant for employment must belong to a particular religious denomination. The agency/commission has, however, taken the view that in the case of staff of organisations with a religious basis who had to act in a "in loco parentis" role, the organisations could take religion into account when making such appointments.An individual has the right to challenge the organisation's view of the nature of a particular job and the onus is on the organisation to show that the "essential nature of the job" requires it to be done by a person holding, or not holding, a particular religious belief or political opinion as permitted under section 37 of the Fair Employment (Northern Ireland) Act 1976.