• International Workplace
  • 20 June 2018

ACAS launches new religion and belief guidance to help prevent discrimination at work

ACAS has published new guidance on religion and belief to help ensure businesses are following the law when it comes to managing staff that have a particular religion, belief or those that 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.

ACAS Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Julie Dennis, said: 

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

"Our new free guidance for employers and employees explains 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; and
  • 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; and 
  • understand that fasting can impact on performance, so employers should try to be understanding in line with business needs.