Are employers required to monitor their employees' religions and beliefs?
There is no requirement to collect data on religion or belief. However, employers may wish to consider adding religion or belief to the categories by which they carry out monitoring. In addition to the normal benefits of monitoring, gathering information on the religion or belief of employees can help employers understand their employees' needs and help business planning, eg by being able to anticipate when employees may wish to take time off for religious festivals. If employers decide that they do wish to monitor by religion or belief, they should inform their employees and job applicants of the reasons for the monitoring, and advise them that they are under no obligation to provide the information and that, if they do, the information will be kept confidential and be used for only the purposes described.
Information about an employee's religious or philosophical beliefs falls within the special categories of personal data under the General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679 EU). An employer can process this data for equality monitoring purposes only if it has an appropriate policy document in place, setting out the safeguards it has implemented for processing special category data and its policies on retention and erasure of the data.