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તમારા વિસ્તારમાં કોઇ કાનૂની સલાહકાર શોધો

15 Equal Opportunities

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1. Introduction

2. When discrimination can happen

3. Types of discrimination

4. Sex discrimination

5. Transgender people

6. Discrimination because you are gay, lesbian or bisexual

7. Discrimination because of your religion or beliefs

Under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003, it is unlawful to discriminate against people at work because of their religion or belief. The regulations also cover training that is to do with your work.

The regulations cover any religion, religious belief, or ‘similar belief’. ‘Similar belief’ includes such beliefs as paganism, atheism, humanism and pacifism, but it does not include political beliefs.

The regulations also cover not having a particular religion or belief. So, for example, you are protected if an employer refuses to employ you because he or she is of a particular religion and you are not.

Religious discrimination can be closely connected with racial discrimination. For example, if you are discriminated against because you are Jewish, this may be either because of your race or your religion. In this type of case, you may want to rely on both the regulations and the Race Relations Act. For information about racial discrimination see the Gurkha Free Legal Advice leaflet, ‘’.

When discrimination is against the law

The regulations say it is against the law for an employer or potential employer to discriminate against you because of your religion or belief. This includes:

  • deciding not to employ you;
  • dismissing you;
  • giving you worse terms and conditions at work;
  • not giving you training or a promotion; and
  • not giving you the same benefits that people of a different religion or with different beliefs have.

You are also protected from harassment and victimisation.

Job duties that conflict with religious beliefs

Employers do not have to employ you if your beliefs mean you cannot do essential parts of the job. But it may not be reasonable to reject you if it is possible to allow you to work in a way that does not conflict with your beliefs. For example, if you are a Muslim or Jew and your work brings you into contact with food, you may not want to handle pork products. But there may be a way that you can still do your job without this.

What you wear at work

Your religion may mean that you have to dress in a certain way. For example, a Jewish woman may want to wear a shirt or blouse outside her skirt to avoid accentuating her body shape, or a Hindu man may want to wear neck beads to indicate his faith.

A dress code at work that wouldn’t let you dress this way may be discrimination unless your employer could show there was a good reason, for example on health and safety or similar grounds.

Religious observance

Your religion or beliefs may mean you have to pray at set times of day.

Your employer does not have to provide a prayer room or give you time during the working day to do this.

However, if there is a quiet place at your work, and using it wouldn’t cause problems for your co-workers or the organisation, it may be discrimination if your employer didn’t let you use the space for this.

You may ask to take your rest breaks to coincide with your obligation to pray at certain times of day. If your employer refuses to let you, without a good reason, this may be discrimination.

It may also be discrimination to:

  • make you work on holy days;
  • refuse to give you leave to celebrate festivals or attend ceremonies;
  • force you to take annual leave at set times.

Whether it is discrimination or not will depend on all the circumstances and whether your employer can justify the arrangements. For example, your employer may be justified in closing down for a time each year for maintenance work. Or if many workers ask for time off at the same time, it may be difficult to balance the needs of the business with those of the workers. In a small organisation, it may be difficult for an employer to allow several workers to have time off at the same time; but in a large organisation, an employer would have less reason for refusing time off for several people.

When an employer is allowed to discriminate

In a very few cases, an employer is allowed to discriminate if it is a ‘genuine occupational requirement’ that the jobholder has a particular religion or belief. For example, a hospital may want to appoint a Christian chaplain to tend to the needs of patients who are mainly Christian.

It is important that each post is considered separately. An employer can claim a genuine occupational requirement only if the work must be done by someone of a particular religion or belief, not just because the employer would prefer it.

An employer may not claim a genuine occupational requirement when recruiting if they already have enough employees who can do those parts of the job that need someone of a particular religion or belief. For example, if only a small part of the job qualifies for a genuine occupational requirement, then the employer may be able to adapt the duties of the job in question so that it does not have a genuine occupational requirement - and therefore discrimination would not be allowed.

To make sure it is still valid, an employer should check the need for a genuine occupational requirement each time a post becomes vacant.

If an organisation has an ethos or philosophy based on a particular religion or belief, it may be able to apply a genuine occupational requirement to jobs where in other circumstances such a requirement would not apply.

Examples of ethos-based organisations include religious institutions, faith schools or faith-based care homes. To apply a genuine occupational requirement, an organisation must show that it is:

  • a requirement of the job to keep to the ethos of the organisation; and
  • ‘proportionate’ to apply the requirement. For example, a Church of England faith school may want to employ a religious education teacher who is a member of the same church. However, it would not be lawful for the school to insist on its maintenance and administrative staff being members of that church.

8. Discrimination because of your age

9. What you can do about discrimination

10. Dealing with discrimination at work

11. Going to an employment tribunal

12. Dealing with other types of discrimination

13. The Human Rights Act

14. Further help

15. About this leaflet


This leaflet was published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Sara Leslie

Leaflet Version: December 2007

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