Protected Beliefs

 9 September 2015

The protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 include: age, disability, gender reassignment, marital status, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation. As a protected characteristic, ‘religion and belief’ includes certain political beliefs and philosophies.

Under the Human Rights Act, all citizens have the right to freedom of thought, religion and freedom of expression. However, these rights must also be balanced with the rights of others in the workplace. For instance, you cannot avoid being disciplined for political harassment of a colleague on the grounds that it is your human right to discuss politics freely. This is especially pertinent this year as, with the forthcoming Labour Leadership election and the recent General Election, politics is a subject likely to be brought up within the workplace.

There are prohibitions you can put in place without fear of contravening the Equality Act. For instance, if you wish to prevent employees from attempting to coerce their colleagues, or even clients, you are perfectly entitled to do so. But how far should this go? Should this scope be extended to include other controversial topics and discussions within the workplace? This could all be dealt with within a bespoke company policy.

Such policies may be included in a staff handbook – a document we recommend all employers implement and keep updated. Alpha specialise in preparation of bespoke documents and we would be more than happy to compile a handbook specific to your needs. Please feel free to contact us to discuss this.


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