All staff have the right not to be discriminated against because of a protected characteristic. Religious beliefs are one of the nine protected characteristics recognised in Employment Law under the Equality Act.
An employer could find themselves facing an Employment Tribunal claim if they are seen to have discriminated against a member of staff. Religious discrimination is the unfair or unfavourable treatment of a person because of their religious beliefs. This can include policies or practices.
To help to avoid discrimination employers can have policies or Equal Opportunities, Bullying Harassment and clear Grievance procedures.
Ramadan is a religious period observed by many Muslims. This year, Ramadan began on 5th May and ends on 4th June.
Ramadan happens every year, in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During this 29 or 30 day continuous period, Muslims will not eat or drink anything between sunrise and sunset (known as fasting).
Ramadan is seen as one of the five pillars of Islam. Most Muslims (there are exceptions for the young, the elderly and the sick) will fast between sunrise and sunset and will also partake in prayer, reflection and charity work.
For the majority of Muslims, Ramadan will not have any effect on their day-to-day work. However, others may very well be greatly impacted. Therefore, it is very important that employers give consideration as to how they can assist their employees during Ramadan.
- Fasting may very well affect the employee in certain ways. They may become a little irritable or slightly tired during the latter parts of the day. Therefore, some understanding from managers and colleagues is helpful.
- It may be obvious to your other employees that the employee isn’t eating and if they do get a little irritable, which can be natural, why they are not their usual self. Therefore, it would be a good idea to suggest that the employee informs their manager and colleagues that they will be fasting.
- With the above in mind, the employee may wish to start work earlier in the day and finish earlier, so that they can rest during the latter part of the day at home. The employee may also wish to work from home, and you should consider allowing them to do this.
- It can also help to hold meetings and undertake more challenging work in the mornings and perform more routine tasks later in the day.
- Although the employee should still take their breaks, a shorter lunch-break could make it easier for the employee to manage their workload if they wish to take time off to carry out additional prayer or worship.
- The employee may also wish to use some of their annual leave entitlement during Ramadan, especially during the final ten days, as this is a particularly special time for Muslims.
- It is a good idea to suggest to colleagues that they should refrain from offering food and drink to those who fast, and also ask other staff to not eat during meetings.
- It can also be helpful to avoid social events and even full team meetings during Ramadan.
Understanding the employee’s experiences and accommodating their particular needs shows great management skills and will also help to ensure that staff perform to the best of their abilities. Putting in place policies that are accommodating to all religious events can also lead to a better mutually trusting relationship with your staff and ultimately lead to higher staff retention, better morale, more effective teams and greater productivity.
If you would like help with policies or training on avoiding discrimination please contact us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk.
We can also assist with HR meetings such a grievances and Employment Tribunal representation for employers.
For all Employment Law or HR matter contact us at http://www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk