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New Guidance for Employers on Religion and Belief

New guidance on managing religion and belief in the workplace has been published by Acas. 

The guidance aims to help employers ensure they comply with the law at all times when managing staff that have a particular religion or belief, or those that don't hold any beliefs. It includes advice on issues such as religious dress codes, fasting and time off for religious festivals or holidays.

"Discriminating against someone due to their religion or belief is against the law,” explained Acas Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Julie Dennis. “Employers need to ensure that their workplaces are inclusive and respectful of people's beliefs, particularly in areas such as recruitment and annual leave.”

Recruitment is one key area where employers should take care to ensure they avoid discrimination, especially related to:

  • Job adverts, which should be publicised widely and should avoid mentioning religion if at all possible.
  • Training and development opportunities that help employees gain promotions. These 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.

In addition, Acas recommends that employers should also:

  • 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.

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