Religion or belief: food and dietary requirements

Advice and Guidance

Who is this page for?

  • Employers

Which countries is it relevant to?

    • Great Britain

      Great Britain

Answers to the main religion or belief questions about food and dietary requirements, developed with employers. Part of our religion or belief frequently asked questions.

No, you do not automatically have to cater for all dietary requirements related to religion or belief. However, you need to ensure that the decisions you make about dietary requirements do not particularly disadvantage those sharing a particular religion or belief. If you refuse a request to provide particular foods for religion or belief reasons, you would need to be able to objectively justify this.

What is appropriate for one workplace is likely to be different for another and will depend on the size of the organisation, the numbers of staff, and the facilities available. It may be that providing a vegetarian as well as a meat option would meet the needs of the vast majority of staff.

It is good practice to ensure all your employees are made aware of periods of fasting and what fasting entails. This can be done by posting general information on staff notice boards, intranets or newsletters to encourage understanding and consideration among colleagues.

The impact on colleagues is a relevant factor in considering a request from a fasting employee to leave work early. The fact that colleagues think the arrangement is unfair is unlikely in itself to justify refusing a request. If you do agree to the request make efforts to explain to the other employees why the request is being granted, telling them, for instance, that it is temporary and if the employee is making up the hours at other times. If you refuse the request you must make sure you are not directly or indirectly discriminating against your employee or others sharing the same religion or belief. See our guide to the law to find out more about direct and indirect discrimination.

Last updated: 27 Mar 2017

Further information

If you think you might have been treated unfairly and want further advice, you can contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service.

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