Creating a fairer Britain
The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. Some of the information on this page may be out of date.
A: As you are a Muslim, you will be protected by the Religion and Belief Regulations. Because the wearing of the hijab (as set out in the Koran) is an expression of your Muslim faith, then the treatment you have received is indirectly related to your faith.
In this example, the employer has a policy of banning head wear in the hairdressing salon. The employer may argue that staff should have their hair visible to customers in trendy styles but this doesn't necessarily demonstrate how good you are at cutting hair, so they may not be able to justify this demand.
Well effectively, you are being refused the apprenticeship because the employer has a no head wear policy. Therefore, they are discriminating against you because your need to wear the Hijab is an expression of your faith as set out in the Koran. This could amount to what is known as 'indirect discrimination' and is likely to be against the law.
A similar case has gone to an employment tribunal who ruled that the young woman had suffered discrimination on the grounds of her religion and awarded her compensation.
Firstly, your faith will need to meet the definition of a 'Religion or Belief' - under the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations. It is important that you belong to a recognised religion or belief which includes for example collective worship, a clear belief system, a profound belief affecting the way of life or view of the world. Two examples of this are Christianity and Hinduism.
In a recent case which was taken all the way to an employment tribunal, a Rastafarian man was employed as an executive driver. He was refused extra hours by his employer and the opportunity to be taken on full time. The reason for this, said the driver, was because the employer applied a dress policy that all staff should be well presented when carrying out their duties. The driver wore his hair tied back in dreadlocks and the employer felt that this did not comply with the company dress policy.
Unfortunately, the driver didn't win his case because the employer claimed that they didn't know that the way he wore his hair was an expression of his belief.
However, for the first time under UK law, the case established that Rastafarianism falls within the legal definition of a Religion or Belief. Previous attempts to do this under the Race Relations Act had failed.
A: Under human rights and anti-discrimination legislation, you have the right to hold your own religious beliefs or other philosophical beliefs similar to a religion. You also have the right to have no religion or belief.
Read more information on Religion or belief.
If you work in a shop you have special rights. You can opt out of having to work on Sunday even if your contract says you have to. Your employer has to tell you about this right within two months of hiring you.
These rights don't apply if you are employed to work on Sundays only.
You opt out by writing to your employer and giving them three months' written notice that you want to stop working on Sundays.
If you decide to take the opt-out your employer doesn't have to offer you extra work on other days instead. You are likely to lose the wages you used to earn by working on Sundays.
Don't be worried about how opting out of Sunday working will affect your job security. Your employer is not allowed to treat you unfavourably (for example, deny you overtime or promotion) and you can't be dismissed for refusing to work on Sundays under this right. An Employment Tribunal can award compensation if your employer breaks the rules.
For more information see direct.gov.uk.
A: Employers are not required to provide a prayer room. However, if a quiet place is available and allowing its use for prayer does not cause problems for other workers or the business, your employer should agree to your request.
Find out more at the Acas website.