Recruiters should not necessarily expect all job interviewees to shake hands, as it could cause offence and breach new laws which come into force in December.
Insisting on a handshake could leave the interviewer’s organisation open to a claim of discrimination, according to a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
The report, Tackling Religious Discrimination: An introduction to the law, also warns that serving alcohol without a non-alcoholic option at work functions could invite a claim under the new European laws.
To comply with EU law, the UK must introduce new legislation on religious discrimination by 2 December 2003 to make it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of religion or belief in the workplace.
The CIPD has published guidance to encourage employers to think about the complexities and to help them recognise the need for action.
The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations will be covered at the CIPD’s Annual Employment Law Conference today.
The briefing document, commissioned by the CIPD, cites possible claims that could be brought unless the legislation is clarified.
The implications for employers are enormous, given that compensation awarded to an employee (or would-be employee) who wins their case is unlimited.
One particular problem facing employers is the potentially wide definition of what amounts to a belief.
Dianah Worman, CIPD adviser, diversity said: “The Government needs to produce guidance as quickly as possible to address many of the concerns highlighted in the report. With just six months left before the regulations become law, the clock is ticking loudly for those organisations wishing to prepare for such a major and far-reaching piece of legislation.”
The report makes the following four key recommendations to ensure UK organisations do not fall foul of the law:
- Ask employees what their requirements are, and where appropriate, whether they would like to set up an advisory body on religion and belief
- Review all policies and procedures, from recruitment to appraisal and l