Faith-based providers could prioritise hires of own religion under new bill

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Religious aged care providers will be able to prioritise hiring staff from their own faith under the Federal Government’s new religious discrimination bill.

According to the bill, introduced to Parliament last week by Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured), faith-based organisations will be allowed to hire based on their religious policies, provided those policies are made public.

“It is not discrimination for a religious hospital, aged care facility, accommodation provider or disability service provider to seek to preserve a religious ethos amongst its staff by making faith-based decisions in relation to employment. Such conduct is therefore not unlawful,” the bill reads.

Two of the more controversial elements of the bill have been removed, however, following lobbying by moderate Liberal MPs: the “Folau clause”, which would have banned large employers for penalizing employees’ religious speech, and a “conscientious objection” clause for health providers, which would have allowed them to refuse treatment based on their religious beliefs.