What Does Religious Discrimination Look Like in the Workplace?

Written by Luke Kitchen
Last updated January 10, 2022

In the UK, religious workplace discrimination is a serious issue. It can be difficult to recognise the signs of faith-based workplace discrimination and even harder for employees to know how they can protect themselves from this. In this blog article, we’ll look at what religious workplace discrimination is in the United Kingdom and how employees can protect themselves. Finally, what steps employers can take to prevent religious workplace discrimination from occurring.

What is Religious Workplace Discrimination?

Religious workplace discrimination is when someone is treated unfairly in the workplace because of their religious beliefs. This section will explain what types of religious workplace discrimination there are and how religious beliefs can be protected by UK law.

Types of Religious Workplace Discrimination:

Direct Discrimination: This is when an employee is treated unfairly because of their religious belief. For example, if they are not given a promotion because of their faith.

Indirect Discrimination: This happens when an employer has a policy or rule which disadvantages employees who hold religious beliefs. For example, refusing to allow employees to take time off for religious holidays could be indirect religious discrimination.

Harassment: This is when an employee is made to feel uncomfortable because of their religious beliefs. Harassing someone because of their religious belief is against the law in the UK.

Victimisation: If an employee has complained about religious workplace discrimination, they cannot be victimised by their employer as a result. For example, if an employee has made a complaint to their employer about religious workplace discrimination, the employer cannot demote them as punishment.

How Can Employees Protect Themselves Against Religious Workplace Discrimination?

Employees will find it much easier to stand up for their rights if they are aware of religious workplace discrimination. It is important that employees know what to do if they think they are being discriminated against because of their religious beliefs. Employers should ensure that there are clear policies in place which protect employees from religious workplace discrimination and harassment at work. Employees need to feel confident about making a complaint if they feel that they are being discriminated against.

Legally, religious employees are protected under the 2010 Equality Act. This legislation makes it illegal for employees to be discriminated against because of their religious beliefs in the workplace. Serious incidents can also be reported to the police.

How Can Employers Prevent Workplace Discrimination?

Employers have a duty under UK law not to discriminate against their workforce on the basis of religion or belief. Employees should feel free to be themselves at work and employers must take steps to protect religious employees from workplace discrimination. Employers need clear policies in place which deal with religious issues such as religious dress, religious holidays and time off for religious observance. By having these policies in place, employers can show that they are committed to religious diversity and preventing religious workplace discrimination from happening. Finally, employers should always deal with any complaints about religious workplace discrimination swiftly and fairly.

To summarise this article, religious workplace discrimination is when religious employees are treated unfairly because of their religious beliefs. This can include direct and indirect religious workplace discrimination. Employees should know what to do if they feel that they are being discriminated against including making a complaint to their employer or the police. Employers also have legal duties which require them not to discriminate against religious employees in the workplace. Employers can protect religious employees from discrimination by having clear policies in place and dealing with any complaints swiftly and fairly.

Take a look at Aspiring to Include for resources on your rights as a religious employee, and browse our jobs board for live opportunities!

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Last Updated: Tuesday July 19 2022
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