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Safeguarding Religious Beliefs in the Workplace: Combating Discrimination

Politics / Employment Dec 12, 2023 - 07:06 AM GMT

By: Sumeet_Manhas


The present world is so varied that we have to strengthen our efforts in the business world to uphold the fundamental right to freedom. When it comes to religious beliefs, which are deeply personal and play a significant role in shaping an individual's identity, the issue becomes quite delicate. It is crucial to build an environment where employees feel respected and protected when expressing their religious convictions. How can we safeguard religious beliefs in the workplace and combat discrimination?

How to understand a belief? 

When religion is taken into consideration, the word belief may be referred to as a wide array of convictions, practices, rituals, and moral principles that shape the vision of the world. The beliefs may come directly from an established religion or may be more personal and individually constructed. It’s advisable not to talk about religion in the workplace to avoid misunderstandings, yet a harmonious and inclusive environment in the workplace is vital, with respect and recognition for diversity of beliefs. 

According to the Equality Act 2010, UK citizens are protected against discrimination on various grounds, including religion or belief. It defines “belief” as any belief connected with religion or philosophy, or lack of belief at all.

Religious discrimination in the workplace

When an individual experiences unfair treatment, or harassment because of their religious beliefs and practices, we may define it as religious discrimination. There are two types of discrimination which individuals may face. Direct discrimination involves treating someone less favorably due to their religion or belief, while indirect discrimination occurs when a policy or practice affects individuals of a particular religion without a justifiable reason.

Employees can also experience harassment, which involves unwanted, intimidating, hostile, degrading, or offensive environments, related only to religion. Employers must be attentive to identify and address any discrimination cases that may appear in the workplace, as they compromise the well-being of employees but can also lead to legal consequences.

Employers’ responsibility  

Even if the discrimination and harassment come from other employees, the responsibility for taking action against such practices falls directly on the employers. It’s advisable to contact employment lawyers to gain all necessary knowledge about the theme, learn how to identify such behaviours, and determine what actions are possible to take against the person who is the source of harassment. It's obvious you don't have to be an expert in the field, so use the expertise and knowledge of those who know everything about the issue and who will guide you all through the process. 

First of all, it’s necessary to implement clear and comprehensive policies that explicitly prohibit religious discrimination, harassment, and victimisation, which need to be communicated to all employees. 

One of the reasons people discriminate against others is that they don’t understand what they are really afraid of. Conduct training programs to raise awareness about religious diversity, sensitivity, and the importance of fostering an inclusive workplace culture. Make sure employees understand what constitutes discrimination and how to report any incidents. 

With some religious practices, some accommodations may be required by them, such as flexible working hours, dress code adjustments, or designated spaces for prayer. Encourage employees to share and appreciate each other’s religious beliefs and celebrate religious holidays in a respectful and inclusive way.

By Sumeet Manhas

© 2023 Copyright Sumeet Manhas - All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

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