New laws come into force in December prohibiting workplace discrimination and harassment on grounds of religion or 'similar philosophical belief'. Not only will mainstream religious groups be protected, but also people belonging to fringe religions and cults. The lack of a specific definition of 'belief' is likely to lead to a rash of test cases. Humanists and atheists, for example, are probably covered, but are people with broader political beliefs? - pacifists, vegans and animal rights activists, to name but a few. In practical terms, employers will need to consider whether they operate practices that directly or indirectly offend particular faiths. Business or social events revolving around alcohol may, for example, be seen as disadvantaging or excluding people of some religions. Other sensitive areas might include time off for religious festivals, canteen food, provision of prayer facilities and dress codes.
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