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Religion and Belief. Customs and cultures 2008. Monitoring religion or belief identities. 2008. Employers responsibilities.

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religion and belief

Religion and Belief

Customs and cultures 2008

employers responsibilities
Employers responsibilities
  • There is no legal requirement to keep information on how staff groups are made up (gender, ethnic groups, age, those with disabilities) other than in the public sector where racial monitoring is a statutory requirement.
  • However there is evidence that most people are willing to provide this information voluntarily and monitoring religious or belief identities alongside ethnic or racial identities offers many benefits:
benefits of monitoring
Benefits of monitoring
  • It helps organisations to make sure their equality policy is working and to assess whether recruitment and training policies are reaching a wide audience reflecting the local community.
benefits of monitoring5
Benefits of monitoring
  • It can also help organisations to understand their employees’ needs by getting to know the practices, festivals etc of difference religions and beliefs.
  • It can help organisations to monitor the application of their policies, performance appraisal schemes, grievance and disciplinary procedures, staff turnover and so on, and to identify disproportionate impacts on people from specific religions of beliefs.
equality monitoring
Equality monitoring
  • Staff should be told why religion or belief are being included in equality monitoring processes and assured of confidentiality and anonymity.
  • It can be explained that an organisation wishes to collect information that will enable it to respond as positively as possible to the varied needs of all its employees.
equality monitoring7
Equality monitoring
  • Information about religion or belief should not be sought at interviews where it is irrelevant to the decision-making process unless it is relevant to the duties of the post.
  • It should, at any rate, be made clear to candidates what the duties of the post involve so that they can consider whether it might conflict with their religion or beliefs, for example, if the job involved unavoidable contact with pork products
prayer rooms

Prayer rooms

Good practice

prayer rooms9
Prayer rooms
  • Whilst employers are not required to provide a prayer room, it is often possible to designate a room or quiet place for this purpose without causing problems for other workers or the organisation.
  • It may even be that some other workers would also appreciate having a place that they can use for quiet reflection or to enjoy a few moments peace..
  • Wherever possible, organisations should respond positively to such requests. Refusing a request where such a place is available and would not have an adverse impact may mean that an employee is acting in a way that is discriminatory
prayer times

Prayer times

Responding to requests

responding positively
Responding positively
  • It may be very possible to respond in a positive and flexible way to these requests and it is, therefore, good practice to ensure that staff know how to make such a request. Prayer time may take no longer than a tea break and it may be possible to demonstrate thoughtfulness and respect for an employee’s beliefs and needs, without any difficulties arising.
  • However no organisation is obliged to agree to requests that will cause unreasonable disruption and managers and supervisors need to consider their responsibilities to all their employees when considering time off requests. It is important to explore alternatives and to talk with the employees affected who may have helpful ideas.
dietary requirements

Dietary Requirements

Responding to dietary requests

what is required
What is required
  • They may, for example, need to store and heat food separately from other food. It is usually possible to accommodate such needs at little or no additional cost and it is good practice to talk with employees about any needs they may have and to be as helpful as possible in meeting those needs.
good practice
Good practice
  • When arranging company events – assessment days, conferences, training events etc where food is to be provided, it is again good practice to ask in advance about any specific dietary requirements those attending may have and to make the necessary arrangements to respond to these.


Good practice

  • It may be helpful to initiate a discussion about this with staff members who observe periods of fasting.
  • Employers should, however, take care not to implement measures that place unreasonable extra burdens on other staff and could cause ill feeling or result in claims of discrimination


Some advice


Some employees may find events where alcohol is being served uncomfortable.

  • Be aware of the need to also provide alternative ways for people to socialise if some employees might be disadvantaged by not attending particular social events.


Reasonable adjustments

  • Where organisations provide a uniform or require a specific dress code, they should try avoid items of clothing that may conflict with the requirements of some religions.
  • Some religions, for example, require women to dress modestly. By adopting a flexible approach and consulting with staff affected by the dress code, it is possible to agree a code that meets the needs of the business and of individual employees.
  • Where it is practical and safe to do so, staff may welcome the chance to wear clothing consistent with their religion
health and safety
Health and safety
  • Rules concerning dress codes that are in place for health and safety reasons or to project the image of the organisation with customers may be justifiable and therefore lawful. This will depend upon the extent of the need for the rules for the business assessed against the needs of these who cannot fully comply for reasons arising from their religion or belief
  • For example Sikhs wear a metal bracelet, Hindu women wear a necklace (which is placed around their neck during their wedding ceremony and is therefore, very symbolic). An organisation’s policy on the wearing of jewellery or having tattoos or other markings should be as flexible as possible. Unjustifiable policies may constitute indirect discrimination
undressing and showering
Undressing and showering
  • If an organisation requires its staff

(or learners) to change their clothing or shower, for reasons of health and safety, it needs to ensure that facilities meet the needs of those religions and beliefs that do not allow individuals to undress or shower in the company of others, even of the same sex. Insistence upon same sex communal facilities could constitute indirect discrimination or harassment

individual actions

Individual Actions

Encouraged by employers

what can individuals do
What can individuals do?
  • Learn to understand what others actually believe and value, and let them express this in their own terms;
  • Respect the convictions of others about food, dress and social etiquette and not behave in ways which cause needless offence;
  • Recognise that all of us at times fall short of the ideals of our own traditions and never compare our own ideals with other people’s practices;
  • Work to prevent disagreement form leading to conflict;
  • Don’t misrepresent or disparage other people’s beliefs and practices;
  • Correct misunderstanding or misrepresentations not only of our own but also of other faiths whenever we come across them;
what can individuals do29
What can individuals do?
  • Respect another person’s expressed wish to be left alone;
  • Avoid imposing ourselves and our views on individuals;
  • Be sensitive and courteous;
  • Avoid violent action or language, threats, manipulation, improper inducements, or the misuse of any kind of power;
  • Respect the right of other to disagree with us;
what can individuals do30
What can individuals do?
  • Be aware that racial, cultural and ethnic identity are often inter-related with religion/faith;
  • Understand that religion/belief may sometimes be a stronger motivator for discriminatory sentiment and behaviour than race, culture or ethnicity;
  • Ask staff how they would like to be addressed, how to pronounce their name and how to spell it;
  • Become well informed – if you are not sure, ask (appropriate/relevant) questions and find out more information;
  • Treat everyone with dignity and respect – ‘do as you would be done by’;
what can individuals do31
What can individuals do?
  • Recognise and guard against your own prejudices. Everyone has them;
  • Don’t assume that treating everyone in the same way is the same thing as treating everyone fairly;
  • Be aware of the different value systems applied by staff of different genders, cultures, faith. For example, some staff members may feel comfortable about other knowing about what faith they adhere to and openness can take various forms e.g. dress, displaying symbols, discussion. Other may be less open for reasons for confidentiality, for fear of rejection/harassment/bullying