The separation of church and work

Religion is a fact of life in workplaces and employers have a duty to accommodate
By Suzanne McFarlane
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/11/2007

Money, politics and religion. Those are the three traditional taboos you’re not supposed to talk about. But the latter — religion — is a topic employers simply can’t ignore, both from a legal standpoint and in terms of finding the right talent.

With Canada’s multicultural workforce, and more immigrants arriving every day, employers have the opportunity to tap into an increasingly diverse talent pool. But with workers from so many backgrounds, and many different religions, questions arise: What happens when employers find themselves faced with requests to make accommodations for various religious practices? What role does religion play in the workplace?

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the public’s right to religion and religious expression. In addition, provincial human rights codes recognize the right to be free from discrimination on a number of grounds, including creed and religion. This protection from discrimination extends to employers, public service providers and educational institutions.