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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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My employer wont allow me to take half days holidays during

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My employer won't allow me to take half days holidays during Ramadan (the holy month of the Islamic year). They know i will be fasting and praying during this time and that it is a very important time for me religiously. Before submitting my holiday request i checked with everyone in my department & manager to make sure there will be cover during this period and that the impact on the workload is minimal. Everyone agreed with this and the request was approved. Now a director is saying that they can't let me have the time off because others might jump on the band wagon and want to do the same thing. But they regularly allow another empolyee to take half days during the racing season so that he can bet on horses/dogs a hobby of his. why is his hobby more important then my religious belief? I am the only muslim employee in the company - so am i being too sensitive, or am i being discriminated against? I don't think they would intentionally cause offense but maybe in ignorance they dont realize how much i am left feeling hurt and offended. I get 27 days holiday allowance a year and am always asked to use 4 or 5 days of this for the xmas shutdown period. Why can i not have the same consideration for my religous event? Should I try and talk to my empolyer about this or keep quite and just accept this. Please advise what you think
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Ben Jones :

Let me just get my response ready please

Customer:

Hello Ben.

Ben Jones :

Under the Equality Act 2010 an employer must not discriminate against an employee, either indirectly or directly, because of their religious belief.


 


Generally, if an employer wants to prevent an employee from taking time off, or requires them to work on a religious holiday, this will be regarded as indirect discrimination unless the employer can show that their request is objectively justified.


 


The EHRC Code gives some useful information on how to deal with such situation:



  • If an employee requests annual leave for a religious occasion, employers should seek to accommodate the request, provided that the worker has sufficient holiday entitlement and it is reasonable for them to be absent from work during the period requested. Employers who require everyone to take leave during an annual closedown should consider whether this creates a particular disadvantage for workers sharing a protected characteristic who need annual leave at other times; for example, during religious festivals. Although the operational needs of the business may be a legitimate aim, employers must consider the needs of workers in assessing whether the closure is a proportionate means of achieving the aim.


 


So it is important to consider why the request is refused and if it can be objectively justified. I don’t think the excuse they have given is great to be honest – they can easily explain to other staff who may wish to ‘jump on the bandwagon’ that the only reason you have been allowed this is due to a religious belief and it is an exceptional situation, not something you will get whenever you want.

Customer:

Hi Ben,

Customer:

Thank you for your answer, I do feel that the reason for not allowing me time off was not fair or clear enough. it is good to know that someone else things that. I think i will request a meeting and try to talk to them about the issue.

Ben Jones :

The Code is here:

http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/uploaded_files/EqualityAct/employercode.pdf

The example above is page 249

Customer:

Thank you once again, I'll let you get on with other work. Goodbye.

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 46809
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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