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
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 Page v NHS Trust Development Authority, in which the EAT considered the distinction between a person's religious beliefs and the manner in which they express those beliefs.
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.
How should employers approach political discussions at work? Can employers prevent employees from displaying pro- or anti-Brexit paraphernalia at work? What about staff campaigning or protesting outside working hours? Will employers making redundancies because of Brexit really choose leave voters as the first to go? We discuss five scenarios related to Brexit and political opinions at work.
In The City of Oxford Bus Services Ltd t/a Oxford Bus Company v Harvey, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that, when deciding if an employer's working arrangements are justified, the tribunal must focus on justifying the rule in the particular circumstances of the business, rather than the application of the rule to the individual.
In Gan Menachem Hendon Ltd v De Groen, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that a claim of direct religious discrimination cannot be sustained simply on the basis that an employer acted in the way it did because of its own religious beliefs.
As always, HR professionals had their fair share of employment law cases to keep track of in 2018, but what were the 10 most important judgments in 2018 that every employer should know about?
An employment tribunal will next year decide if "ethical veganism" is a philosophical belief in a case involving a man who claims he was discriminated against by his employer, the League Against Cruel Sports.
HR and legal information and guidance relating to religion or belief discrimination.