Religion in the workplace – are you promoting religious discrimination | Pertemps

It’s against the law to discriminate against anyone because of their religion. Religion is a well-established fundamental right internationally and within Europe. Within the UK we have a diverse culture, full of different practicing religions and beliefs.

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against, or treat someone unfairly, because of religion or belief, or their lack of religion or belief. This means that all employees must not be discriminated against if:

  • you are (or are not) of a particular religion
  • you hold (or do not hold) a particular philosophical belief
  • someone thinks you are of a particular religion or hold a particular belief (this is known as discrimination by perception)
  • you are connected to someone who has a religion or belief (this is known as discrimination by association)

Recruitment is a common area where discrimination can occur; be it directly or indirectly. Discrimination can happen at any time during the hiring process, from what is required of the applicant, advertising the job, interviewing for it, allocating the job’s duties and hours, and offering the role.

It is imperative that employees accommodate the religious beliefs and customs of others wherever possible. Businesses need to ensure that discrimination in recruitment isn’t happening within their own processes and it is advisable to review all recruitment activities to ensure discrimination is prevented.

Create the skills needed for the role

Before advertising a vacancy, remain objective when selecting what skills are required for that particular role. The skills required should be achievable by people from all backgrounds. It will help if you list the skills as ‘essential’ and ‘desirable.’

Job descriptions and person specifications

Discriminatory advertising is against the law and can carry hefty fines. You must not include language that can be seen as restrictive or discriminatory. The advertisement must be solely focused on the skills that are needed to perform the role and not personal characteristics.

Don’t ask questions based on the protected characteristics

As an employer you cannot ask candidates about their health or disability until a job offer has been made, neither can you ask a woman if she intends to have children.  You certainly cannot ask whether someone thinks their religious beliefs can impact the role – this is against the law.

Job offer

When selecting a candidate for a role it’s important you remain non-discriminatory. You should focus on the candidate’s skills and abilities and how they match the criteria and job description. 

Record your decisions

These can be used for training purposes and can provide a record in the case that someone makes a complaint. Remember any notes that you make in an interview could also be disclosed in the event of legal action so make sure you keep them objective.

Feedback

It’s always good to give unsuccessful candidates feedback about their interview. Make sure you provide them with points to work on and discuss how they performed within the interview process.

Pertemps is aware that discrimination exists in recruitment processes across wider industries, often unwittingly, and we do our utmost best to advise clients on how to avoid this happening. We hoped that other organisations follow our lead and work to eradicate all types of discrimination for good.