Should There Be Other Religious Holidays for Staff?

Article excerpt

Should employers have to consider all religious festivals when it comes to statutory holidays, a leading employment specialist asks.

The UK has traditionally operated working practices to take account of Christian festivals such as Christmas and Easter, but, as it becomes ever more culturally diverse, will the same consideration be given to other religious festivals?

"The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations, introduced in 2003, apply to all aspects of employment," said Debra Cottam, of Higgs & Sons based in the Black Country.

"Under the legislation it is unlawful to directly or indirectly discriminate, or subject someone to harassment or victimisation on the grounds of religion or belief. The issue with holidays however, is whether other faiths are being indirectly discriminated against by being required to take holiday at Christmas when they may wish to do so on different dates to celebrate their own religious festivals."

Direct discrimination is when an employer treats an employee less favourably than another employee and does so, on the grounds of religion or belief.

However, indirect discrimination occurs where an employer applies a "provision, criterion or practice" to all employees which disadvantages those of a particular religion or belief. …