Discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief became unlawful in relation to employment and vocational training from the 2nd December 2003. Legislation had existed in Northern Ireland since the Fair Employment Act 1976.

As with other discrimination areas the regulations prohibit direct and indirect discrimination as well as victimisation and harassment by reason of any 'religion, religious belief, or similar philosophical belief'.

Whilst there is nothing in the regulations that requires any specific provisions to be made to accommodate any particular religious belief, employers need to be mindful of the particular needs of religious and other groups.

Employees should not be treated less favourably because of their religion or belief nor should they be disadvantaged by any policy at work. Employees should not be subject to any from of unwanted bullying or comments because of their faith or belief.

The Regulations do not set out any formal definition of the terms. With most of the recognised religions it is possible to identify particular faith beliefs but with the philosophical area you would need to look for some form of collective belief or some belief that affects an individual's view of life.

As with any other discrimination issue an employee has the right to claim before a Tribunal and the Tribunal has the power to make a compensatory award without any limit.

 

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