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Supporting Diversity: Religion in the workplace

Published 30 May 2017

Employers should do more than just hope and pray that they get it right when it comes to accommodating religious beliefs in the workplace.

This is especially crucial at this time of year with Ramadan (1) starting at the end of May and finishing at the end of June.

Ramadan is a time when Muslims across the world will fast during daylight. It can mean going up to 18 hours without any food or drink, including water.

As a result the workplace can be a particularly testing environment, but there are steps that supportive employers can take to help.

Fasting workers may lack energy and be lethargic, and adapting working arrangements may prove productive for an employer.

ACAS has produced a helpful guide for Ramadan for employers and employees (2). It highlights key workplace considerations during the holy month.

Showing some flexibility in terms of the working day, shift times and breaks to allow workers to finish on time in order to break their fast with family and friends can be extremely helpful.

Employees of any faith should not suffer unfavourable treatment for wishing to observe their religion.

Workers subjected to adverse treatment as a result of their religion may be unhappy, less productive and demotivated, resign or make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal (3).

This can prove costly as it can damage the organisation’s reputation and result in compensation being paid. In the event of a successful claim to a Tribunal for religious discrimination there is no limit to the amount of compensation that may be awarded.

The religion and belief provisions of the Equality Act 2010 (4) make it unlawful for employers to treat workers less favourably than others on account of religion or belief.

Workers are protected at all stages of employment against discrimination (5).

References:

  1. BBC - Schools - Religion - Islam - Ramadan [Internet]. [cited 2017 May 30]. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/religion/islam/ramadan.shtml
  2. Ramadan | Workplace Advice & Guidance | Acas [Internet]. [cited 2017 May 30]. Available from: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=4868
  3. Employment Tribunal - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2017 May 30]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/courts-tribunals/employment-tribunal
  4. Equality Act 2010: guidance - GOV.UK [Internet]. [cited 2017 May 30]. Available from: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/equality-act-2010-guidance
  5. What Is Discrimination? « EOC [Internet]. [cited 2017 May 30]. Available from: http://www.eoc.org.uk/what-is-discrimination/

 

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