Religious observance and prayer
Many religions have holy days in the week where spiritual or religious observance is expected. For Western Christians, such as Anglicans, this may not be a significant issue that impacts on the workplace, as weekends and public holidays generally reflect the practices of these faith groups. However, issues may arise in some situations if, for example, a member of staff is required to work on Sundays.
Similarly, for many other religious groups, the working week may conflict or overlap with prayer or religious observance requirements. For example, observant Jews may wish to leave work early on Fridays in order to avoid travelling by car or public transport, cooking, telephoning or writing after sunset, which is the start of their Sabbath. Similarly, practising Muslims may wish to attend collective Friday prayers and may request an extended lunch break in order to do so.
When seeking to fill a staff vacancy, if it would be essential to work on a specific day, this information should be included in the further particulars for a role. This requirement would need to be objectively justifiable.
The capacity to accommodate the different needs of staff will depend on the nature of any request and the operational needs of the role but managers should take steps to try and accommodate such requests and would need to be able to objectively justify a refusal.
The provision of facilities to permit religious observance may be requested by users of University premises. This may, for example, include the provision of ablution (washing) facilities or quiet spaces for contemplation or prayer. There is an obligation to consider such requests and to determine whether it is practicable to provide such a facility. However, this will depend on a number of factors, including the availability of suitable premises, demand, cost and availability of alternative provision. Some larger departments have already made such facilities available.