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Voice of the Employee

There’s new advice for supporting vegans in the workplace, including having a shelf in the office fridge. The Vegan Society has shared suggested guidelines to help businesses look after their vegan staff.

They range from offering vegan menus at events to providing vegan-friendly work-wear for people who want it.

The charity wants vegans to be exempt from corporate events like horse racing or activities that might include cooking a “hog roast” on a barbecue.

Other recommendations include colour-coded kitchen equipment and separate areas to prepare meat-free food – as well as non-leather phone cases, being exempt from any part of purchasing non-vegan goods and the chance for staff to have discussions about vegan-friendly pension options.

The Vegan Society says these new guidelines are intended to create a positive atmosphere at work.

“Fostering a general attitude of respect towards vegan employees is key,” it writes.

“If ‘jokes’ made about an employee’s veganism become burdensome, steps should be made to improve this.”

There are an estimated 600,000 vegans in the UK who follow a plant-based diet and avoid animal produce.

The Vegan Society wants comments made about vegans to be compared to those made about people in religious groups.

Last month a UK judge ruled that the beliefs of ethical vegans were protected by law and said they deserved similar legal protections in British workplaces as those who hold religious beliefs.

Ethical vegans don’t just avoid eating or using animal products – they also try to exclude all forms of animal exploitation from their lifestyle. For example they avoid wearing or buying clothing made from wool or leather, or using toiletries from companies that carry out animal testing.

“One way of assessing whether a co-worker has gone too far with comments to or about vegans is to consider what type of conversational behaviour would be deemed offensive to other individuals with protected characteristics, such as those who adhere to certain religious values,” the society says.

Since last month’s ruling jokes or comments about vegans can be considered harassment in the workplace under the Equality Act 2010.

“An employer has a duty to ensure that all employees behave respectfully and courteously towards each other and vegans should also benefit from this,” the society states.

“If this duty is not extended to vegan employees, claims of unlawful harassment related to a protected belief will be taken seriously in employment tribunals.”

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