New religion and belief guidance from Acas aims to help prevent discrimination at work

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New religion and belief guidance from Acas aims to help prevent discrimination at work

New guidance on religion and belief in the workplace has been published by Acas. It is intended to help ensure businesses are following the law when it comes to managing staff that have a particular religion, belief or indeed don’t hold any beliefs. The guidance offers employers essential advice on how to comply with the Equalities Act, which protects employees against discrimination based on religion and belief. The new guidance for employers and employees sets out to explain what religion or belief discrimination is, how to avoid it and includes advice on what the law says about religious dress codes, fasting and time off for religious festivals or holidays.

The Acas guidance highlights recruitment as a key area where employers should take care to ensure they avoid discrimination, especially related to:

  • Job adverts. They should be publicised widely and it is almost always better if employers don’t mention religion in the posting.
  • Training and development opportunities that help employees gain promotions should be organised so employees don’t miss out due to religious observance.
  • Opportunities for promotions. It would be discriminatory for an employer to discourage an employee from taking a promotion because of their religion.
  • The Acas guidance also offers help to ensure that employers:
  • Take a flexible approach to dress codes where possible
  • Consider requests to use annual leave for religious reasons carefully and sympathetically
  • Understand that fasting can impact on performance so employers should try to be understanding in line with business needs.

The Acas guidance can be viewed at Religion and belief.