Some of your employees may pray, but do employers need to provide them with a suitable prayer room at work?
The simple answer is no – employers are under no statutory obligation to provide employees with a prayer room.
However, if you do have a quiet room available which will not disturb other employees or negatively impact on your business, you should give serious thought before refusing to let an employee use it for prayer.
If you don’t have a spare room available, you should explore other possibilities – are there rooms that are not being used at particular times of the day?
You can also think about introducing flexibility – letting employees alter their start or finish times to allow them to pray.
Always take these requests seriously. It is easy to unwittingly discriminate against someone who has beliefs they need to observe – especially, if you have the space available and provide others with facilities such as exercise room or relaxation area but refuse a prayer room without a good reason.
If you do have an unused office or meeting room, you may decide to have a quiet room for employees of people of all faiths or no faith to use during rest breaks. This room shouldn’t be to catch up on emails, use electronic devices or read, but for religious observance, meditation and reflection.
You can make it clear to all employees that they must respect other people in the room and ensure that the environment is accessible and welcoming to others. It is also important to remind staff that they should not discriminate or harass others and any allegations of this type of conduct will be investigated and disciplinary may be taken.
The benefits to having a quiet room are that it shows your commitment to diversity, which can help attract talent. It can also motivate your current employees. They no longer have to feel embarrassed or feel they need to justify their actions to others. This can help boost engagement, morale and productivity.
You can read more about race and religious discrimination here.