Religious wear – What’s the limits in the workplace?

14th September 2016

There’s been a lot of press recently about religious wear with some French Mayors causing controversy by banning ‘burkinis’ on the beaches and some countries going as far as banning face covering such as depicted above. Other ‘interested’ parties are seeking action against Islamic clothing in general. Have you considered the impact on your workplace if an employee turns up on Monday in a full face covering burka, or other religious attire?

The positive performance impact of embracing diversity and inclusiveness from a multi-cultural society is well known, particularly remembering that your customer base will recognise this approach and react accordingly. Some companies have gone as far as adapting their work wear to suit religious as well as company branding.

As a minimum an employer can certainly insist that any religious symbols or choices, such as beards, do not breach health and safety requirements. There are many examples of this.

We would always recommend a proactive approach with a period of consultation with a representative body such as the trade union to ensure that all areas particular to your business are covered off.

Of course religious wear is just one aspect of the wider issues associated with diversity and the following ACAS guide gives a comprehensive coverage to help with your consultation.

If you need any help in ensuring your organisation is maximising the benefits of diversity then please contact one of our HR experts, who can be found here.

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