Few employers place faith in policies on religion and belief

Only a third of employers have an explicit policy on religion and belief in the workplace, a study has found.

The proportion of employers surveyed with an explicit policy is far higher in the public sector (55%) than in the voluntary sector (31%) or private sector (30%).

In manufacturing and production industries, less than one in five employers (17%) have a policy.

The quarterly Labour Market Outlook survey of 1,369 employers, conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and professional services firm KPMG, looked at employer practices on religion and belief in the workplace.

Three-quarters of employers with a policy support staff in taking time off for religious observance and just under two-thirds (61%) provide staff with time or facilities for religious observance in the workplace itself.

About one in 10 firms with a policy impose restrictions on religious dress or jewellery. This overall proportion is raised by employers in manufacturing where a quarter impose such restrictions – usually for reasons related to health and safety.

Only 1% of respondents had faced an employment tribunal claim in the past three years related to alleged religious discrimination, with similarly small proportions reporting they had been involved in disciplinary (1%) or grievance (3%) cases related to religious discrimination.

Dianah Worman, CIPD diversity adviser, said: “How to treat the expression of religion or belief in the workplace is becoming a more pressing issue for employers as the UK becomes both a more multi-faith and more secular society.

“The survey findings are encouraging in demonstrating that tensions evident in recent high-profile cases relating to restrictions on religious dress or the display of religious symbols at work are not widespread in workplaces across the UK,” she added.

Comments are closed.