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Prayer Rooms/Time Off

Hello All

Anyone got any information on what to do if an employee asks for time off for prayers 3 times a day.  We do not have a prayer room or any space for one and wonder what our duty was from the employer point. 

Any information welcome.

Thanks

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  • You have a legal obligation to see that your employee isn't discriminated against on the basis of his or her religion or philosophical belief and, of course, to ensure that your employees take their legally and contractually mandated breaks. You have an ethical obligation to place no unreasonable barriers in the way of your employees practising their faith.

    You have no obligation to provide a prayer room. I would find out how much time the employee expects to spend in prayer every day. There are specific times that Muslims are supposed to pray during the day, so if you have time critical meetings or take incoming customer calls you'll have to decide whether you can reasonably accommodate his request.

    Not doing so doesn't necessarily constitute religious discrimination (in fact, arguably, to give him time off for breaks that others don't get could be said to be religious discrimination, although I don't think the caselaw exists, yet, to establish this for certain). The important thing is to have the conversation, understand his or her needs, and establish sensible grounds upon which you can meet them, if you can, and - if you can't - articulate clearly why you can't and what compromises might be required to meet him or her halfway.

    For example, if he needs, say 15 minutes in the day for prayers, he might shorten his lunchbreak by 15 minutes or work longer at the end of the day.

    If you have observant Muslims in your workforce, it is also worthwhile knowing the dates of Ramadan, as fasting can affect mood and performance and it's good to be aware in advance and to make suitable accommodations. I used to have an FD who observed Ramadan. Because he wasn't eating, he started work very early in the day and left early to prepare for fitur (fast-breaking at sunset).
  • In reply to Robey:

    Many thanks for this information.

    Regards
    Gaynor
  • I think it needs to work around normal break allowances or working extra time in return (prayer times are often set times so can't always be done at lunchtime for example, but then the time taken should be made up). It's similar to a couple of Jewish employees I knew, who did not work Friday afternoons to ensure they were home in time for Shabbat. They started early every day so that their overall hours were the same. It's not fair on other employees otherwise and can set up an environment of resentment.