Balancing act: how to manage conflicting beliefs in the workplace

By Alex Newborough

Managing conflicting beliefs, in particular religious beliefs, is an increasingly tricky area for employers. As we discuss, employment tribunals regularly seek to draw the line between protecting the right to belief and other, often competing rights.

The issue of conflicting beliefs has very much been in the headlines recently, with household names such as Pizza Express, Tesco and Sainsbury’s admitting that they use halal meat without clearly flagging this to customers. This has caused controversy among those who believe halal meat is a cruel practice and do not want to support it and those who require halal meat for religious reasons. Such clashes between beliefs is also common in the workplace, leaving employers in the difficult situation of trying to keep all employees happy.

The European Convention on Human Rights recognises the fundamental right to religious belief, and in the UK this is reflected by the Equality Act 2010, which protects both religious and philosophical beliefs…

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