Respecting different religions about more than holidays

Daily observances such as prayers and dietary concerns also important
By Phil Schalm
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 07/13/2009

On a daily basis, Canadian workplaces are a gathering place for people from various cultures around the world. This diversity of backgrounds, perspectives and viewpoints can provide many advantages for employers, but what happens when personal requirements and observances do not conform to established business operations?

Canadian businesses were historically built around Christian traditions. Several statutory holidays, including Christmas and Good Friday, follow Christian observances. But, with an increasing number of employees not of the Christian faith, organizations have to figure out how to manage the many religious and cultural events that fall outside traditional statutory holidays.

It’s common for employers to ask employees to use vacation time to observe non-Christian holidays. Others may offer individuals a paid leave separate from vacation allotment and request employees make up the time. Some employers simply provide employees with a pool of paid days, such as 10 earned days per year, that can be used for a variety of reasons, such as illness, bereavement, snow days, personal emergencies and religious holidays not covered by statutory holidays.