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EHRC publishes new guidance on religion or belief

6 December 2016

The Equality and Human Rights Commission published a major report last week on the effectiveness of the law on religion or belief. The report focuses on four main areas:

  • definitions of religion or belief
  • exceptions in the Equality Act
  • the law protecting employees
  • the law protecting service users and service providers

It provides in-depth analysis of and concludes that the legal framework generally works well, and that no major changes to the current legal framework are necessary. Of particular interest to employers, the EHRC resists calls that they should be required to make “reasonable accommodation” for those whose seek permission to object on the basis of conscience to certain work duties (eg handling alcohol or certain foodstuffs) or from providing services to certain groups of customers or clients (eg those in a civil partnership). The report also dismisses the idea that the harassment provisions of the Equality Act 2010 should be extended to the provision of services.

But, recognising that misunderstanding of the law can lead difficulties, the Commission has also published a new suite of materials for employers which give a straightforward explanation of legal requirements and guidance on handling many of the day-to-day situations with which employers have to deal.

The EHRC has also worked with Acas in the development of new e-learning resources on religion or belief in the workplace.

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