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Religion: Conditions of Employment

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 9 September 2009

To ask the Minister for Women and Equality what her policy is on (a) whether, in an organisation with a religious ethos, the need of the organisation to maintain such an ethos should constitute a genuine, legitimate and justified occupational requirement to be of a particular religion and (b) the regard to be had to (i) the nature of the employment, (ii) the qualifications of the employee and (iii) the performance of the employee in the job. (290666)

I have been asked to reply.

The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 contain a specific exception to discrimination on grounds of religion which allows an employer with an ethos based on religion or belief to require that an employee be of a particular religion or belief if it is a genuine occupational requirement for that particular job, and it is proportionate to apply the requirement in each case.

The ethos of the organisation is one factor which employers with a religious ethos take into account. They must also consider the nature of the job or the context in which it is carried out. The qualifications or performance of the employee are not relevant factors when considering whether the requirement to be of a particular religion or belief to do a particular job is genuine or not.