Responding to request

Employers should fully consider whether their criteria for deciding who should and who should not be granted leave might indirectly discriminate.

Employers are well used to organising time off around well know Christian celebrations and festivals such as Christmas and Easter. Many religions or beliefs have their own special festival or spiritual observance days and are likely to request annual leave in order that they can celebrate or attend ceremonies.

An employer should be sympathetic and supportive in considering such requests and respond positively where it is reasonable and practical to do so. In considering what is practical it is important to ensure that reasonable options and alternatives are explored and that difficulties are not simply the result of inflexibility.

It may be that there are circumstances where it is difficult to agree to a particular request – this may for example relate to the number of employees requesting a particular day or time and the size of the business. The value of discussing such issues fully with employees and with any recognised trade union, cannot be over emphasised. Creative solutions or compromises can result from the genuine desire of all concerned to do everything reasonable to be respectful, helpful and supportive.