Religion and Belief

Under Article 9 of the UK Human Rights Act 1998 individuals have the right to hold their own religious beliefs. The Equality Act 2010 extends this protection to other philosophical beliefs similar to a religion. Individuals also have the right to not hold any religion or belief. It is therefore unlawful to discriminate against an individual on the grounds of their religion or belief, or lack of religion or belief.

There are, however, some limited exceptions when discrimination may be lawful. For instance, there may be a genuine occupational requirement for an individual to belong to a particular religion if their job involves direct work meeting a client’s spiritual needs.

To give another example; meeting the Department of Health’s guidance on uniform and workwear may disadvantage health care workers of particular religions. However, in this case indirect discrimination is justified on the grounds of a genuine health and safety requirement.

A definition of the term religion

Under the Equality Act 2010 the definition of religion applies to any religion or reference to religion, including a reference to lack of religion.

A definition of the word belief

Under the Equality Act 2010 the definition of belief applies to any religious or philosophical belief or reference to belief, including a reference to a lack of belief.

Religion or belief should be taken to mean the full diversity of religious and belief affiliations, including non-religious and philosophical beliefs such as atheism, agnosticism and humanism.

Making a reasonable accommodation

The University has developed a Religious Observance and Academic Timetabling policy and a Religious Observance and Exams policy. Both policies allow students the opportunity to apply for a reasonable accommodation to be made for reasons of religion or belief. The criteria are contained within these documents. For more information please contact Registry.