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Tips for Small Businesses

Religious Accommodations Tips

An applicant or employee may need a reasonable accommodation (a change to the way things are normally done at work) so he can practice or observe his religion.

For example, an applicant may ask to reschedule an interview that is on a religious holiday or an employee may request an exception to a "no hats" rule to wear a religious head covering, such as a yarmulke or hijab.

  • Understand who the law protects. The law protects people who have sincere religious, ethical or moral beliefs. This includes people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism or Sikhism, as well as people who have newer or less common religious beliefs, and atheists.
  • Consider the request. Don't automatically refuse an accommodation request or have an inflexible policy that doesn't allow for exceptions.
    • Review each request individually. Avoid assumptions about religious beliefs or practices or appropriate accommodations.
    • Discuss the request with the applicant or employee if needed to ensure you understand the employee's religious needs and available accommodation options. For example, if an employee requests a schedule change so she can attend religious services, you may want to discuss when the services take place and the conflicts posed by the employee's current schedule so you can determine whether a schedule adjustment is possible.
  • Provide an effective accommodation, unless doing so would require more than minimal cost, based on your resources and the operation of your business.
  • Be receptive to additional accommodation requests. An employee's religious beliefs and work responsibilities may change over time, resulting in additional or alternative accommodation requests.

See also:

What should I do if an applicant or employee asks for breaks, leave or other changes to a work situation because of his medical condition or his religious beliefs?

Reasonable Accommodation Policy Tips

Manager Responsibilities - Reasonable Accommodation Tips