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Religion or Belief Discrimination for Employers

The Equality Act protects a wide range of individuals against religion or belief discrimination, harassment, and victimisation.

It protects both job applicants and those 'in employment' under a contract of employment, a contract of apprenticeship, or a contract personally to do work.

The types of religion or belief discrimination are to:

  • Discriminate directly by treating a job applicant or employee less favourably than others because of religion or belief
  • Discriminate indirectly by applying a provision, criterion, or practice that disadvantages job applicants or employees of a particular religion or belief without objective justification
  • Subject a job applicant or employee to harassment related to religion or belief
  • Victimise a job applicant or employee because they have made or intend to make a religion or belief discrimination complaint under the Equality Act

Direct discrimination

This is where because of a person’s religion or belief an employer treats a person less favourably than they treat or would treat another person who does not hold that particular religion or belief. Direct discrimination cannot be justified, but an employer might be able to rely on an exception, perhaps by pointing to an occupational requirement, to avoid liability.

Indirect discrimination

This is where the employer has a provision, criterion, or practice, such as a policy that it applies in the workplace, that affects and puts, or would put, people of a particular religion or belief to disadvantage and it is not a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

What amounts to a protected religion or belief has been the subject of lots of cases and this is a difficult area of employment law to navigate. If you find yourself in a situation where there may be religion or belief discrimination or you wish to avert the same you should speak to the Biscoes Employment Law Team for further assistance. 


For further information or to speak to one of our experts, please get in touch