Czech companies are taking LGBT+ workplace rights into their own hands

Czech law still denies LGBT+ employees certain rights – a number of companies are implementing inclusivity policies anyway.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 14.02.2022 17:00:00 (updated on 14.02.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

It’s well known that the Czech Republic lags behind other European nations in advancing LGBT+ rights. The latest ILGA Rainbow Europe report ranked it 21st out of 27 member states in a comparison of equality laws and policies across the EU.

As legislation on marriage equality continues to stall out in the Czech parliament, LGBT+ couples face complications across various spheres of life from family to employment rights.

A number of Czech companies have recently said they’ll be taking equality into their own hands by giving gay partners the same benefits as married heterosexual couples. These include paid leave for weddings and childbirth and time off to tend to a spouse in a medical emergency.

Energy giant ČEZ recently announced that LGBT+ couples will have the same opportunities for paid leave as heterosexuals within its new diversity and inclusion policy.

“Skillful, intelligent people, regardless of their gender or age, are vital for a modern, clean, environmentally-friendly and people-friendly energy sector,” said ČEZ in a press release. “Various studies show that diverse teams perform better. It is therefore in our interest to strengthen diversity at ČEZ.”

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ČEZ joins other companies, such as Vodafone and Accenture, in giving its LGBT+ staffers equal employment rights.

While it sounds like a step in the right direction, business leaders in the Czech LGBT+ community say the issue is complicated.

Czeslaw Walek, head of the Pride Business Forum in the Czech Republic, says that many companies aren’t even aware of the lack of rights for LGBT+ employees, while many LGBT+ people wouldn’t ask because they aren’t out.

“Our numbers show that 51 percent of LGBT+ people are hiding their identity in the Czech workplace. These people won’t go to their HR office and demand a day off for their registered partnership,” Walek says.

While international companies may be perceived as being more open-minded toward their employee's sexuality, Walek says no major difference has been observed between multinational and local Czech companies in this regard.

“It very much depends on the people who work in the Czech Republic and the push for equality within the country. We see more interest in workplace equality from the purely Czech environment, even from state-owned companies. For example, in the summer of 2021, Czech Post joined the Pride Business Forum.”

The Pride Business Forum, which supports employers in implementing LGBT+ diversity principles, hopes that greater equality in the workplace will lead to an awakening among politicians for the need to align current employment laws with inclusivity seen elsewhere in Europe.

“Of course, the easiest thing would be if parliament would enact marriage equality,” says Walek.

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