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Religion in the workplace a big issue for employers and employees

Whilst most employers strive to create a fair and inclusive work environment, addressing religion and belief in the workplace can, if not properly dealt with, cause hostility and resentment between employees. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has recently released it’s findings having launched  a call for evidence on religion or belief in the workplace and service delivery, revealing both positive and negative employee experiences.

Some of the key findings from the report show that the issues that are most likely to lead to anxieties between employees include:

  • Taking time off to celebrate religious holidays
  • Dress-code at work
  • Expression of religious views
  • Working conditions

The extensive report highlights the fact that some employees feel that, by expressing different religious views, they are discriminated against both during the recruitment process and within their day-to-day role.  On the other hand, non-religious staff can often show resentment if they believe their religious colleagues receive more favourable treatment by employers to accommodate their beliefs.

Whilst the current equality and human rights legislation creates a greater awareness of diversity in the workplace, some people increasingly feel the need to hide their religious beliefs at work. Many employers also feel that the law (or more specifically the application of the law) is somewhat murky and better guidance should be provided. That said, it’s key that business leaders do not outwardly align themselves with one particular religion and adopt a fair and level stance that makes employees feel non-threatened regardless of their religious beliefs.

Juggling the need to promote inclusivity amongst employees without being perceived as showing  favouritsm to any particular group or denomination is a tricky balancing act that employers often struggle to get right.

To make sure your Equality & Diversity policies are up-to-date or for further guidance on addressing discrimination issues in your business, contact one of Park City’s specialist HR Consultants.

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