Religious Accommodations Policy
How to Use This Tool
Islamophobia in Canada isn’t a new phenomenon; but the Québec City mosque bombing may herald a new and uglier phase. Sensing this, the Ontario Human Rights Commission recently called on Canadians across the country to shed their complacency and take real action to combat the threat. Employers would do well to heed this call to action. Religious hatred and bigotry—whether directed at Muslims, Jews or other groups—is a toxin that you can’t allow to poison your workplace. While there’s only so much you can do to control your employees’ minds and morals, you can and must control their behaviour in the workplace.
Simple tolerance of religious differences isn’t enough. The BC Human Rights Code’s mandate of ensuring equal opportunity to all regardless of religion requires that you accommodate the religious beliefs and practices of employees (and job applicants) by modifying your employment policies, schedules and procedures to the point of undue hardship. The starting point is to implement a clear and specific religious accommodations policy. Although there’s no one-size-fits-all formula the Model Policy below includes the key provisions that you should include in your own policy if you’re subject to BC law. If you already have a religious accommodations policy, use the Model Policy to vet it.
Note: The BC Human Rights Code doesn’t specifically make creed a protected ground the way some jurisdictions do. However, the protection of “religion” is interpreted broadly as including creed and we suggest that you leave the language in.