Religion And Belief

New law in force

The Equality Act came into force on 1 October 2010. Some of the information on this page may be out of date.

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.

Under the Equality Act 2006, it is unlawful for someone to discriminate against you because of your religion or belief (or because you have no religion or belief):

  • in any aspect of employment
  • when providing goods, facilities and services
  • when providing education
  • in using or disposing of premises, or
  • when exercising public functions.

There are, however, some limited exceptions when discrimination may be lawful. You can find out more about these in this section of the site.

Under British anti-discrimination and human rights legislation, you are also entitled to practise your religion or belief, express your views and get on with your day-to-day life without experiencing threats or discrimination.

Find out more about your legal rights and what to do if you are being discriminated against on grounds of religion or belief on the following pages:

Religion and Belief research

Religion and Belief guidance - New Febuary 2013

In January 2013, the European Court of Human Rights (the Court) published its judgments in four combined cases about religious rights in the workplace. The cases were brought by Christians, but the implications of the judgment apply to employees with any religion or belief, or none. The judgment affects employer responsibilities for policies and practices protecting religion or belief rights in the workplace, the rights of employees (including job applicants) and the rights of customers.

The judgments may be referred to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights and could be upheld, overturned or modified. In the meantime, we recommend employers should use the new guidance below that includes a selection of examples of requests and how employers might deal with them.  You can also take a look at the Questions and Answer section that addresses some key employer questions.

Employer Guidance Download

Religion or Belief in the workplace: a guide for employers following recent European Court of Human Rights judgments

(word) | (PDF)

Legal Explanation Download

(word) | (PDF)

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