Friday, March 13, 2015

Britain's Equality Commission Reports On Religion In the Workplace and Service Delivery

Yesterday Britain's Equality and Human Rights Commission released a report on its Consultation launched last year seeking evidence on religious discrimination and accommodation in Britain. The 218-page report, titled Religion or Belief in the Workplace and Service Delivery, reports on information received from nearly 2500 individuals and organizations. Here is an excerpt from the Commission's summary of key findings:
Some employees or service users stated that they had experienced no or few negative issues in their workplace or in receiving a service which they attributed to the view of employers or service providers that religion or belief was a private matter and should not be discussed in the workplace or the service.
Some employees and students stated that they had encountered hostile and unwelcoming environments.... The issues raised concerned the recruitment process, working conditions, including the wearing of religious clothing or symbols, promotion and progression, and time off work for religious holidays and holy days. Some reported that particular beliefs were mocked or dismissed in the workplace or classroom, or criticised unwelcome 'preaching' or proselytising, or the expression of hurtful or derogatory remarks aimed at particular groups....
Many participants were concerned about the right balance between the freedom to express religious views and the right of others to be free from discrimination or harassment. Specific issues raised included conscientious objection in relation to marriage of same sex couples and how to protect employees from harassment and discrimination by staff, customers or service users with a religion. There was a marked divergence of opinion about when it was desirable and appropriate to discuss religious beliefs with service users during the delivery of a service.
The Commission's press release on the report emphasized some of the concerns expressed by respondents. The report is discussed further at Law & Religion UK blog.