Belfast Telegraph

Poppies walkout forces Poundland into policy U-turn

By Colin O'Carroll

Discount store chain Poundland has been forced into a U-turn on its policy of staff wearing commemorative poppies

The climb down came after a female worker walked out of a store in Lisburn after she was asked to remove the poppy from her uniform.

The staff member at the Bow Street Mall shop was told that wearing the symbol was against the company's dress policy.

Poundland said it changed its rules across the UK after listening to customer and staff feedback.

The company also apologised for any offence caused.

Poundland chief executive Jim McCarthy said: "We have for some years operated a clear and simple dress code that store colleagues are requested to observe.

"The policy was designed to prevent issues arising that could upset individuals or communities and to focus our energy on raising money for colleague-nominated charities.

"On October 28 a situation in Northern Ireland was brought to the company's attention where a colleague was asked to remove a poppy by our store manager in order to comply with our policy.

"The store colleague decided to walk out and stated that she would return on Monday next wearing her poppy."

Mr McCarthy said the company had decided to allow employees to use their own discretion in wearing poppies.

"This change in policy is consistent with recent reviews of policy made by other leading high street retailers," he added.

Lagan Valley DUP MLA Paul Givan has welcomed the decision by the firm to allow staff members to wear poppies on their uniform.

"I was shocked and angered that my constituent had been treated in this manner by the company," he said.

"My constituent wears a poppy annually to commemorate the many servicemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice during various conflicts over the last century but, in particular, her own family members that served in Northern Ireland's security forces.

"Poundland by their absurd political correctness caused deep offence and politicised an emblem that is universally regarded as a symbol of remembrance and they failed to take into account clear guidance by the Equality Commission that the poppy is not regarded as an emblem that is contentious."

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