Prayer Breaks

Some religions may require your employees to pray during their working hours. So how prayer breaks be managed in the workplace?

Do you have to give prayer breaks? How will this impact your other employees?

The Equality Act 2010 legislates that there is no legal requirement for employers to allow time off in the working day for prayer breaks. There is also no requirement to change working patterns to allow for prayer breaks at particular times of the day.

However, refusing to accommodate a request for prayer breaks or a change in working patterns for religious purposes could be grounds for an employee to claim indirect racial discrimination. If a request could be accommodated without having any discernible impact on the employee’s performance or the running of your business, you would likely need to make allowances for the employee’s requests.

There are, however, some occasions were an employer may be able to argue that indirect discrimination is justified.  For this to be the case, you would need to be able to show that refusing an employee time off is a fair and reasonable action to achieve a legitimate aim within the business.

Employee relationships

It is important to remember that for many, being able to follow their religious observances is hugely important. Showing willingness and an understanding of your employees’ religious needs and beliefs will help to maintain good relationships between you and your staff members. This, in turn, will be beneficial in many ways, such as in terms of staff productivity, loyalty, and general wellbeing.

Even though employers are not legally required to provide a prayer room, failure to provide a suitable space may again be deemed as discriminatory. If establishing a designated room exclusively for the use of prayer is not possible, you could consider allocating staff a quiet area. You could use a meeting room that could be made available to them as and when they needed it each day.

Getting support

Do you still have further questions on this topic?  Get in touch to discuss setting up a fair system for both you and your employees.

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