Belfast Telegraph

Rise in employment rights concerns

Concerns over employment rights soared by 60% over the last year, figures have shown.

The Equality Authority revealed queries on the issue grew to 2,830 in 2010 - the biggest ever annual increase - as unemployment rose.

Angela Kerins, chairwoman, said there was a significant shift in calls in favour of equality legislation over family matters, reflecting the pressures in the jobs market and demand for guides on legislation.

They also included 2,075 enquiries regarding the Equal Status Act, 2,523 calls on maternity protection, 846 about parental leave and 71 on adoptive leave, the Equality Authority annual report revealed.

Ms Kerins said further austerity measures in the coming years will likely impact on the resources available to promote equality in Ireland.

"We therefore need to be certain that the available resources are used to their best," she said.

"We need to ensure that we are in a position to achieve and maintain greater equality and eliminate discrimination in an economically challenged environment.

"It is essential that all of the agencies involved in promoting and supporting equality in Ireland, both statutory and non statutory, are working towards nationally identified goals, are operating together in a co-ordinated way and are avoiding duplication of effort."

Ms Kerins said the landmark change in Irish societal attitudes was marked by the historic passing of the Civil Partnership Act and the first civil partnerships.

"This development is a source of enormous pride for Ireland. It was about time but it was also the right time for this legislative stride to be taken," she said.

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