Editor's message: Issues around the protected characteristic of “religion or belief” can be particularly sensitive for organisations. Workers should be free to practise their religion, but this freedom can sometimes be at odds with your business’s needs.
The workplace issues that most commonly arise include time off and flexible working patterns for religious observance, flexible working, facilities for prayer, and dress codes. These matters can lead to the risk of claims for direct or indirect discrimination.
Misunderstandings about different religions and beliefs can also result in harassment claims. Raising awareness about different religions and beliefs can address misconceptions and allow your workers to understand what is and is not appropriate behaviour.
Awareness training should not be a one-off event, and you should consider incorporating issues associated with religion in the workplace into mainstream training activities and policies and processes.
Fiona Cuming, employment law editor
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Updated to include information on Furlong v Chief Constable of Cheshire Police, in which the tribunal considered if the police force had lawfully applied the positive action measures in the Equality Act 2010.
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HR and legal information and guidance relating to religion or belief discrimination.