14 March 2017
I am disappointed to hear of the EU’s workplace headscarf ban today. It’s time for the UK to start making its own rules now that Brexit in whatever guise is confirmed and I think this is where we should start because this ruling is ridiculous.
According to the BBC the European Court of Justice said: “an employer’s desire to project an image of neutrality towards both its public and private sector customers is legitimate” – but national courts must make sure this policy of neutrality had been applied equally to all employees.
But, people aren’t neutral. We are all different and our beliefs and cultures are what make us, us. I struggle to understand the logic of this, as, to me, it is opening the gateway for discrimination.
Isn’t having a blanket ban in place on religious symbols effectively saying that you won’t hire someone who wears a hijab, a kippah or a crucifix?
Equally, it has become somewhat the norm to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, but this is also linked to religion. As is Christmas. Can you morally ban the wearing of religious symbols whilst still closing or having holidays and decorations for Christmas?
Where is the line drawn? It is an unenforceable and ludicrous proposition.
Since the Brexit referendum, there have been rumblings in the UK, echoed in the rest of Europe, of islamophobia and discrimination, with the people and parties like Marine Le Pen, UKIP and the BNP gaining political momentum. I fear that the ruling on this ban will only add momentum to these rumblings when, in fact, we should be strengthening our communities as we get ready to leave the European Union and face the uncertainties that come with this.
Ahead of Brexit, at UKFast and across my whole business portfolio, we’re setting out our policies and we won’t be considering anything like this ban. It is up to business leaders in the UK to set the example with this, to show that equality is equality.