Voice & Privacy

Business restricts employee religious worship and expression during rest periods


Everyone has the right to freedom of religion, which includes the right to express  religious belief through practice, worship and observance. Employers should ensure that employees are not discriminated against or prevented from practising their religion during rest periods at the workplace (that is, at times that do not interfere with the safe conduct of the employee’s work). Businesses should create a safe and respectful workplace that allows employees to practise and maintain their cultural, spiritual and religious traditions.


Different religions have different practices around worship and prayer, and some religions may require frequent practice throughout the day. Employers should accommodate these practices by not restricting employees from practising their religion during rest periods. No employee should be discriminated against on the basis of their religion, and businesses should provide training regarding diversity and inclusion in the workplace for all employees.


Sometimes there may be religious holidays and events that are not recognized as public holidays in the relevant country, and therefore employees may require leave from work or flexible arrangements to accommodate adherence to their faith at these times. Employers should enable employees to use leave entitlements to take time off work and/or agree to more flexible working arrangements so that all employees can observe religious traditions.

Relevant Human Rights Instruments

ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, 1998
Convention concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation, 1958 (No. 111)
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, Article 7
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1965, Article 5(e)(i)
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966, Article 18
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, Articles 18 and 23.1;
Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief,
1981, Article 6



SDG 8.8

Businesses that support religious worship and expression at work support SDG 8.8: Protect labour rights and promote safe and secure working environments for all workers, including migrant workers, in particular women migrants, and those in precarious employment.

SDG 10


SDG 10.2

Supporting religious worship and expression at work helps to achieve SDG 10.2: By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.

SDG 11


SDG 11.4

Workplace inclusivity around religious worship and expression further promotes SDG 11.4: Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.