6.7 Religion or Belief (including non-belief)
Tips on Avoiding Discrimination under the Equality Act (2010) for Religion or Belief:
A job description includes the duty: ‘regular Sunday working’. In reality, there is only an occasional need to work on a Sunday. This overstated duty written into the job description puts off Christians who do not wish to work on a Sunday, and so could amount to indirect discrimination unless the requirement can be objectively justified.
An interview panel makes an applicant feel humiliated by telling religious jokes = Harassment.
When imposing a blanket Dress Code rule may indirectly discriminate against particular staff, as the Human Rights Act protects the right to manifest one's religion or beliefs.
Facial hair example: A School/Unit introduces a ‘no beards’ policy, saying this is for health and safety reasons in a kitchen. The policy has a disproportionate impact on staff whose religious beliefs require them not to be clean shaven. Unless the School/Unit can objectively justify the policy, this will be indirect discrimination because of religion or belief.
Solution: A better approach might be for the School/Unit to provide staff with ‘beard nets’ to avoid the risk of hair falling into the food.
Modest dress example: Some religions require their followers to dress in a modest way. A dress code which requires a shirt to be tucked inside trousers or a skirt may conflict with that requirement as it accentuates body shape.
Solution: Make it acceptable for staff to be allowed to wear shirts over the outside of trousers or over a long skirt. The question to ask is whether any requirement to stick to a dress code which does not allow staff to do this can be objectively justified.
Wearing jewellery example: An office bans staff from wearing any type of jewellery while at work. This is not for health and safety reasons but because body piercings are not liked. A Sikh worker who wears a Kara bracelet as an integral part of their religion complains about the rule.
Solution: To avoid a claim of indirect discrimination, the School/Unit considers allowing an exception to this rule, as in these circumstances it may find it difficult to objectively justify the blanket ban.