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
Ethical veganism, democratic socialism, humanism and a refusal to lie to customers are among the eclectic list of beliefs that have come before courts and tribunals as potential "philosophical beliefs" under equality legislation. We round up which non-religious beliefs have been found to be protected under the Equality Act 2010.
How can employers prevent employees from electioneering at work? Should the workforce be banned from highlighting their political allegiances in the workplace? What if colleagues argue over opposing political views? With a general election taking place on 12 December, we look at five employment issues when politics and the workplace mix.
Widespread environmental protests, such as the Extinction Rebellion, are having an increasing everyday impact on employers. We round up potential issues for HR professionals who are dealing with disruption to their employer's operations as a result of climate change protests.
In Gray v Mulberry Company (Design) Ltd, the Court of Appeal held that the employee's refusal to sign a copyright agreement was not due to any philosophical belief, but to her wish to achieve greater protection for her own creative work.
As the debate over Brexit reaches a crescendo and leavers and remainers disagree on what should happen next, Richard Fox examines the extent to which employers can allow political debate in the workplace.
In Conisbee v Crossley Farms Ltd and others, an employment tribunal held that vegetarianism is not a "philosophical belief" under the Equality Act 2010. However, the tribunal suggested that veganism is more likely to be protected under the Act.
A table listing the religious discrimination awards made by employment tribunals in 2018/19.
Updated to include information on Bessong v Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, in which the EAT considered if an employer can be held liable for third-party harassment under the Equality Act 2010.
In Page v NHS Trust Development Authority, the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld an employment tribunal decision that there was no religious discrimination where a non-executive director was suspended after voicing his opposition to same-sex couple adoption in the media.
Employers need to work much harder to consider the needs of vegan employees and treat them with respect, or risk running into legal difficulties, an employment law firm has warned.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to religion or belief discrimination.