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

Monday 21 May 2018

Workplace experts Acas have 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
  • 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 
  • understand that fasting can impact on performance so employers should try to be understanding in line with business needs.

Notes to editors

  1. For media enquiries please contact Steven Mather, 0330 109 3645 or smather@acas.org.uk. For out of hours media enquiries please call the out of hours duty press officer on 0330 109 7070. 
  2. The Acas guidance can be viewed at Religion or belief discrimination.  
  3. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. Acas provides free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. We support good relationships between employers and employees which underpin business success. We also provide good value, high quality training and tailored advice to employers. Our expertise is based on millions of contacts with employers and employees each year. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.

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