Some of your employees may pray, but do employers need to provide them with a suitable place to do this?
As the law stands, 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 affect your organisation, you should agree to the employee using it to pray.
If you don’t have a spare room available, you should explore other possibilities. For example, are there rooms that are not being used at particular times of the day?
You can also think about providing employees with some flexibility. This could be letting them alter their start or finish times to allow them to pray.
When considering these types of requests, you should take them seriously. You could be discriminatory. Especially, if you have the space available and provide other facilities such as exercise room or chill out 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 employees 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.
If you would like to discuss this further, contact your Ellis Whittam Employment Law Adviser who can guide you.