An Employee's Guide to Religious Discrimination

1- What are my rights if I feel I have been discriminated against on the grounds of my religion: When applying for a job/ during employment/ in dismissal from employment/ in the context of vocational training?
There is no legislation against religious discrimination in Great Britain. However, the Race Relations Act 1976, which applies in Great Britain, makes it generally unlawful to discrimination directly or indirectly on racial grounds in employment, education, the provision of goods, facilities, service, and the management and disposal of premises. Under the 1976 Act "racial grounds" means grounds of race, colour, nationality or ethnic or national origin.

Indirect discrimination on racial grounds occurs when the proportion of your racial group able to comply with requirement or condition is considerably smaller than the proportion of people not in that group who can comply; you are adversely affected because you cannot comply with it, and the condition or requirement is not objectively justified. Such a condition might, for example, that job applicant should not be Muslim, which would for example adversely affect higher proportion of Pakistanis or Bangladeshis than of members of other groups.

If you find yourself in such a situation you may wish to seek advice from the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), your local Racial Equality Council or Citizens' Advice Bureau. They can advise and/ or assist you in, for example, completing the necessary forms should you wish to take your complaint to an Industrial Tribunal.

Tribunals can clarify the rights of the employer and employee and recommend a course of action or award compensation. If you wish to make a complaint you will need to complete a Tribunal Application form (IT1), which can be obtained from Racial Equality councils, citizens' Advice Bureau or Jobcentres, with a guidance booklet on tribunal procedures (ITL1). The IT1 form should be sent to the address contained therein. It is important to bear in mind that complaints should be made within three months of the date of the alleged discrimination occurring.

2- How can I ensure that my employer allows me to honour the practices of my faith while at work?
Employers and employees are free to agree contractual terms covering specific areas, such as religious practice at work or time off for religious observance/festivals. You may wish to discuss and agree such terms with your employer. Once agreed, such terms are legally binding on both parties.