HomeInsightsTo what extent must an employer accommodate an employee’s religious belief?

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The question of religion in the workplace will be coming under the spotlight over the coming months. For a start, we’re expecting a decision from the European Court of Human Rights not only in relation to the issue of religious symbols and uniform policy but also on the question of whether an employer is permitted to dismiss an employee for refusing to carry out duties which conflict with their religious beliefs.  The decision of the ECJ is likely to come out within the next few days and will no doubt receive a lot of media interest when it does. In the meantime, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has recently upheld a decision that an employer’s requirement for all full-time staff to work on Sundays in rotation did not indirectly discriminate against a Christian employee.   In doing so, it has confirmed that, provided that the employer has a legitimate reason and acts in a way that is proportionate, it is entitled to require an employee to do something that may be incompatible with their religious beliefs. Of course, the decision is not authority for the proposition that it will always be permissible to require an employee to work in a way that may conflict with their religious beliefs: each case will turn on its own facts.  However, it does provide a useful reminder that it is for the employer to prove that the requirement is justified (and not for the employee to show that it was unjustified). Here’s a copy of the decision: http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/2012/0332_12_1312.html If you would like further details please contact Marcus Rowland (0207 927 9677) or Seth Roe (01242 631262)

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