New Employment Guidelines: Belief Rights in the Workplace
Following the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in January 2013 on religious rights in the workplace, new guidelines have been published expanding on the implications for employers and employees.
Previously, the generally held view was that a practice was only protected by your human rights if it was required by your particular religion or belief. The new judgment confirms that a practice motivated, influenced or inspired by, and which is sufficiently linked to, the religion or belief will be protected regardless of whether it is a mandatory requirement.
The four combined cases were brought by Christians, but the judgment affects workplace policies towards those with any religion or none. The guidelines are specific that the “law protects adherents to all the generally recognised religions, as well as druids and pagans, for example. It also protects people without any religion or belief, including humanists and atheists.”
A document for employers has been published, detailing the need to accommodate genuine beliefs in the work environment. Official advice is to consider all reasonable requests regarding religious, or belief-based, practices, whether this be a manifestation of belief (such as a piece of clothing or jewellery), time off for specific purposes, or adapting duties (such as avoiding contact with alcohol or meat).