UUP legal bid to end Catholic schools’ fair employment opt out

Sandra Overend
Sandra Overend

The UUP is attempting to legislatively end the teacher exemption to fair employment law in Northern Ireland, something which could make it much easier for non-Catholics to get jobs as teachers in Roman Catholic schools.

The party has tabled an amendment to the Shared Education Bill which, if it is supported by the Assembly, would see the repeal of the teacher exemption.

UUP MLA Sandra Overend said it was “illogical” to support shared education “without simultaneously breaking down the barriers between the various school types in terms of teacher appointments”.

She said: “A useful first step, would be to remove the teaching exemption from Fair Employment regulations.

“Many people will find it amazing that in 2016, it is still perfectly legal to recruit teachers on the basis of their religion. Under Article 71 of the Fair Employment and Treatment Order (NI) 1998, it is not unlawful for the employers of school teachers to discriminate on the grounds of religious belief or political opinion in relation to the recruitment of persons as teachers in schools. What sort of message does this send out about fairness, equality and a shared future?