Tuesday, 19 February 2013

EHRC publishes guidance on Religion or Belief

From the EHRC website:

[The] Equality and Human Rights Commission has published new guidance today to help employers and employees deal with the expression of religion or belief at work and avoid conflict and costly court cases.

The guidance has been issued on the same day that the Commission has provided a briefing to MPs on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill as it is scrutinised in Parliament. Both publications will help to clarify two complex areas of law that will have a direct impact on people’s lives.

The guidance follows the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) judgment in four cases about religious rights in the workplace, one of which found that an employee suffered a breach of her right to religious freedom for being told not to wear a cross at work.

However, the fact that this judgment could be overturned on appeal and it could take time for domestic courts to re-interpret existing domestic law, has the potential to cause confusion for employers on how to deal with employees who wish to express their beliefs at work.

The Commission has therefore produced straightforward, expert guidance to clarify the law and how employers can use it to manage and protect religion and belief rights in the workplace.

It includes good practice advice for employers such as how to tell if a religion or belief is genuine, the kinds of religion and belief requests employers will need to consider and how to deal with them…

The guidance document, together with a legal explanation, can be found here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 19 February 2013 at 11:55pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation

There's some very helpful comment on these publications at

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at 8:40am GMT

Potentially lots of work for the lawyers here.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at 10:10am GMT

The difficulty in translating the judgment into guidance makes me doubt the value of the judgment and says to me that Stra├čburg may in this instance have overstepped the Mark. Maybe in a few years the jurisprudence will have settled down a bit. Until then a lot of private companies are going to now view adverse ECtHR judgments as a risk, meaning de facto if not de jure they are subject to the Convention. That might be a good thing but my personal view is a British Bill of Rights is a good way for us as a nation to organise and contribute to Human rights debates. (Personally I am still against pulling out of the ECtHR and favour implementing court rulings unless they create a genuine and pressing difficulty).

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Wednesday, 20 February 2013 at 5:05pm GMT
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