Work serves both God and our neighbour, and rest is of equal value – the world’s oldest health and safety law is the commandment to observe the Sabbath.
The value of work is measured by what it produces, and it must honour and be of service to every person as made in God’s image. Work should enable rather than limit fulfilment; it should not burden God’s creation unduly; and both the life it affords and the conditions under which it is carried out should reflect the value inherent in humanity.
We should have a say in the rhythm and implementation of our work and maintain a good balance of work and family commitments. The Church is actively involved in supporting healthy working environments: many workplaces have chaplains, who are there for everyone and available to discuss any major issues and problems of work and life.
During the recession of the 1990s, the Church was active in addressing the new challenge of a high level of unemployment. Parishes continue to work with local associations of unemployed people to organise meals, clubs, excursions and other activities, and parish workers are available to offer counsel and support. We seek to serve as a partner to, rather than a representative of, the unemployed, assisting them in mobilising and making their voice heard.
Unemployment is a complex and long-term social problem that requires intensive socio-economic and cultural evaluation. Although neo-liberal orthodoxy suggests that full employment is an unrealistic goal in the age of the global market economy, the Church maintains that it is both reasonable and achievable.