Muslim Council of Britain’s practice guide for employers and employees

By December 15, 2017Uncategorized

An extract from Muslims in the Workplace “A good Practice Guide for Employers and Employees”  by the Muslim Council of Britain

4.16 Provision of prayer facilities: Employers are not required to make costly adjustments for religious observance at work. However, employees may request access to a place to pray, and if it is possible to provide a room without an unacceptable adverse impact on business or other staff, then employers may be found to be indirectly discriminating if they refuse such a request.   Furthermore, it is good practice for employers to provide a prayer room for their employees. Where only one room is available, it could be designated as a multi-faith prayer or contemplation room. Where employers are providing prayer facilities, they should be aware of the following: 

The room should be clean and quiet.  In particular, if a room is set aside for prayer, there could be a notice requesting people to remove their shoes before entering the room. The qibla (the direction in which Muslims pray) could also be pointed out on the wall or a compass can be placed in the room for use by those wishing to pray.   

Muslims will not generally pray in a room where there are photos, posters, images or statues of people or animals.  If employers provide a multi-faith prayer room, employers should consult with employees about the display and storage of religious items such as statues or posters. 

As most individuals will require a quiet place when praying, employers should consult with employees in order to reach an amicable agreement as to the timings for use of the room.  Employers will need to be aware that it is obligatory for Muslims to perform their prayers at certain times of the day as set out above. 

Where rooms are unavailable, space could be made in a corner of a room to place a prayer mat at prayer times.

Due to the obligation to perform wudhu, a ritual wash before prayer, employers may wish to make some adjustments in relation to washing facilities.  For example, toilets could include a low sink for washing feet, which in many circumstances would not entail excessive or disproportionate cost to the employer but would make it more practical for Muslim and non-Muslim employees using the toilets. Alternatively, employers can supply storage in the washroom areas for a plastic washing-up basin and a small jug that can be used by Muslim employees for washing their feet and left in a clean manner by them.  However, in many cases, normal toilet facilities will be adequate.

Example It may not be practically possible to provide a prayer room for staff in a small garage employing 12 staff, where the only space available is a small communal kitchen/restroom. However, a larger organisation with several meeting/conference rooms that are often unused may be considered unreasonable if it is not willing to organise its operations in such a way as to make a room available for prayer at specific and known times each day.