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Employers must act to ensure workplaces are inclusive, welcoming & supportive - Kearney

3 July, 2019 - by Declan Kearney

Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Employment and Workers Rights, Declan Kearney MLA, has called on employers to ensure that all workplaces in the north are inclusive and welcoming of different backgrounds and supportive of staff with mental ill health issues.

Mr Kearney was responding to a new Equality Commission Report which confirmed that more than half of employees do not believe that their workplace supports staff when they suffer mental ill health, while 51% of employees do not think that their workplaces seek to accommodate employees from different cultures.

The report also revealed that employees in workplaces with no recognised trade unions felt less able to challenge unwanted behaviour.

The South Antrim MLA said:

“The Equality Commission report has brought to light the vulnerabilities which some employees face in the workplace.

"While I welcome the fact that 150 companies have signed up to the Commission's Mental Health Charter, it is essential that all employers implement policies which make their employees feel valued and safe in a fairer and more inclusive workplace.

"It is totally unacceptable for workers to feel uncomfortable and voiceless when it comes to challenging unwanted behaviour. That is the type of environment which ultimately contributes to mental illness and a lack of wellbeing.

"Whilst workforces in this society may now be more integrated than ever, it is clear that our working environments have still to become more inclusive.

"This poses a significant challenge particularly for employers, and they have a responsibility to respond positively to these issues highlighted by the Equality Commission.

"I consider it alarming, but not surprising, that this report confirms that employees in workplaces with no recognised trade unions feel less able to challenge unwanted behaviour. 

"This reality underlines the need for the proposals contained in Sinn Féin's recent policy document "Towards a New Employment Model - Strengthening Workers Rights", which argue for improved trade union recognition and collective bargaining rights in the north of Ireland. 

"That is the most effective way to guarantee and enhance overall working conditions.

"Good jobs and working conditions, and the protection of all workers' rights should be integral to public policy.

"Sinn Féin will continue to work with employers, employees and trade unions to help address these issues.”

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