Time & Attendance Solutions | Religion for Employers | Timerack


By Timerack

September 8, 2016

When people search for employment, they seek a company that will value what they bring to the table. Every worker is different, and in today’s pluralistic society, businesses need to be even more cognizant of how their words and actions are carried out.

Although major strides have been made to eradicate discrimination in the workplace, there is still a ways to go. Religion can often be a difficult element for businesses to navigate.Time Rack takes a closer look at what organizations and human resources teams need to know to properly – and legally – make the workspace a safe place for employees with various religious backgrounds: 

Discrimination based on religion is prohibited in the workplace.

Understanding discrimination
To start out on the right foot, businesses need to comprehend the various elements of religious discrimination. It is illegal to treat employees unfavorably due to their religious, ethical or moral beliefs, according to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In work situations, discriminatory situations can arise during the recruitment or termination processes, job assignments, determining pay and promotions, offering fringe benefits and more. Harassment is also not permitted, so any offensive remarks – especially those that are so frequent and severe enough to contribute to a hostile work environment – should be handled by HR promptly.

While it’s critical for businesses to be aware of the specifics of federal regulations, HR leaders should also be sure to inform and educate employees of illegal and unacceptable behaviors. Companies need to create a clear-cut policy that informs and educates people at all levels of the business about discriminatory practices and the consequences associated for partaking in these activities.

“Unless it causes undue hardship on the employer, religious accommodation is required by law.”

Religious accommodations are required
Every religion has its own customs, holidays and obligations the practitioners must follow. Organizations have to work with employees to make these requirements work for both parties. Unless doing so would cause a large burden on the employer, companies must provide reasonable accommodations for religious workers. Examples include schedule changes for days of observance, accepting particular dress or grooming practices and understanding an employee prohibition of certain garments – like mini skirts or pants – due to religious beliefs, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Changes to the work environment, business policy and job reassignments are also possibilities when it comes to religious accommodation.

Differences between state and federal laws
While religious discrimination is prohibited across the country, there are certain variances depending on the state that correlate with the accommodation portion of the law. Federal regulations require employers with 15 or more workers to provide accommodations, while smaller businesses often have to follow the codes of their own state. Companies will be hard-pressed to find a state that doesn’t protect the religious rights of employees for both legal reasons and because doing so can result in improved morale and retention, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Employee vs. employer responsibilities
Both organizations and their religious workers have obligations to make the workplace as open and safe as possible. Employers cannot ask about a person’s religion or the specifics of personal observances during the hiring process. That’s an important element of recruitment that all HR teams should be aware of.  As such, businesses won’t know about employees’ beliefs and religious necessities unless workers fill them in afterward. No large amount of detail needs to be given, but employees seeking to observe religious commitments must inform HR leaders so that organizations can provide better accommodations. No justification or proof is required, and a simple statement of the reason for why you’re not working those particular days or hours will suffice. If the two parties work together with respect and understanding, everyone’s responsibilities can be managed efficiently.

Businesses and the HR teams require effective payroll and attendance software to manage important employee necessities, especially those tied to religious accommodations. Time Rack time-keeping solutions enable leaders to customize the system based on worker preferences. For example, HR can create custom holidays for those people observing non-traditional religious holidays. Critical employee details can also be added by the worker so all HR staff is aware of religious accommodations.

It’s crucial for companies and HR to be aware of the specifics of religious discrimination as well as their obligation to provide accommodations for their employees. Creating a safe and open workplace can improve overall morale and encourage education and discussion regarding religion that is helpful for members at all levels of the organization.

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