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Religious symbols at work

As an employer of domestic staff, housekeeper, carer, nanny, etc., it pays to keep abreast of new and potential changes to employment law.  Potential changes particularly, as if you really feel the change is not for the better, then you still have time to register your views with, say, your MP.  If the change DOES go through, at least you have the satisfaction of having tried!

A case in point is David Cameron’s promise to introduce a new employment law, despite the government’s much vaunted statements of reducing employment red tape.  This time the law would be to protect religious beliefs in the workplace.

His views are apparently based on two entirely different cases of women wearing religious symbols, crosses, one an employee of British Airways, and one an employee in the NHS. However, the former was based on non-conformity with a uniform and the latter on health and safety issues.

Many are concerned that this is a case of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, creating a new law to accommodate a very few – but widely publicised – cases.

There are knock-on effects.  For example, the law would permit the wearing of a niqab, the mask, or cloth worn as part of a hajib, worn by some Muslim women.  What about a tattoo of a cross, or other religious device?  Many women as well as men now have tattoos.  As an employer, you would have no say in the matter.  Think hard, now is the time to make your views known.

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