Working in the field of Human Resources as I do - okay, some people may challenge the term 'work' but I do at least turn up at the office on a daily basis - I was interested in an article in the latest edition of Personnel Today, the weekly publication for HR professionals (enter your own punchline here)
The article was about the draft Employment Statutory Code of Practice which has been published by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Part of the aim of the Code is to protect people's beliefs. I can see, dear reader, you are already ahead of me on this one. For it is envisaged that some of these beliefs may include:
Feng Shui believers who shun the number four in meeting rooms,desk numbers etc. This stems from the fact the number four is considered auspicious as it sounds like 'death' in Cantonese. I look forward to the next disciplinary hearing I am asked to attend. There will be the manager, the employee, their trade union representative - and me. Hang on, that makes four in the room. 'That's discrimination on grounds of my beliefs' says 'the accused'. 'And you've deliberately arranged the hearing for four o'clock on the fourth day of the week on the fourth month of the year. Okay, then - you may have been suspected of emptying the safe in the office and burning the building down with ten people still inside but rather than risk being taken to an Employment Tribunal, we'll let you off - this time...
Vegans demanding a separate fridge and non-leather chairs. Now, I don't really have a problem with this. In fact, I wouldn't stop at separate fridges. How about separate kitchens; separate floors; nay, separate buildings. And non-leather chairs? Only one person in our company can even consider a leather chair (and it certainly ain't me...)
An environmentalist (aka a tree-hugging hippy) demanding time off to attend a protest march, under a company policy that allows absence for important religious events. Many years ago in the early 1980s BC (before children) I used to attend CND marches in Aberdeen and Edinburgh - at weekends. In those less enlightened days, if I took time off work during the week to do so I would have been involved in another kind of march - the sort that would have taken me to the nearest Job Centre.
Reading the article had my manager and I shaking our heads. I did, however, agree with one part of the article - a quote from Richard Crouch, Head of HR at Somerset County Council who said 'the world had gone barking mad'
Well said, Mr Crouch - although I suspect he may receive a letter from some tree-hugging, Feng Shui practising vegan who says their dog has found his comments offensive...