Workplaces of all sizes are brimming with employees from a variety of ethnic, racial and religious backgrounds. As we approach the holiday season, it’s important for small business owners and HR managers to review their policies surrounding time off for religious holidays.
Refusing to accommodate your employees who wish to celebrate these religious holidays could put your small business at risk for a discrimination lawsuit.
There is no federal law that requires an employer to give employees days off for religious holidays. However, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, employers are required to reasonably accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices unless doing so would cause more than a minimal burden to the operations of the business. This means employers may be required to make reasonable adjustments to the work environment that will allow an employee to practice his religion.
Examples of accommodating an employee’s religious beliefs:
- Flexible Scheduling
- Voluntary Shift Switches
- Job Reassignments
- Modifications to workplace policies or practices
Multiple Requests Off For The Same Religious Holiday
According to SHRM, an employer should accommodate these requests in a consistent and nondiscriminatory manner. If you have a system of seniority or other neutral system in place for determining which employees are first accommodated, use that system.
You could also consider splitting up the day so that some employees have the morning off and others have the afternoon. Employees’ willingness to work together to accommodate religious observance needs, such as shift switching, should also be recognized.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not sure what’s even considered a religion under Title VII?
Wondering what exceptions there are to who is covered by Title VII’s religion provisions?
When is an employer liable for religious harassment?
How can you learn that accommodation may be needed?
These are the types of questions you will find answered by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by clicking here.
Religion can prove to be a tricky subject in the workplace. It’s best to consult your own legal advisor when determining policies such as this.
You can find the original article published here.