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What’s our duty to accommodate a religious need we just learned about?

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in Hiring,HR Management,Human Resources

Q. An employee we hired a couple weeks ago just told us that he is Muslim and can’t work on Fridays. During the interview, he was asked whether anything would prohibit his working a proposed schedule that specifically included Fridays. He said no, in writing. Can we let this guy go?

A. Although you could terminate him because he was not truthful during the interview process, now that he has asked you to accommodate his religious beliefs, you should evaluate whether you can accommodate him.

If you need someone to work on Fridays, one option would be to ask other employees if they want to swap shifts with this employee. You can’t force other employees to swap shifts.

If you can’t determine a way for the employee to have Fridays off without causing an undue hardship to the company, you can let the employee go.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Saiyyidah Zaidi April 22, 2012 at 7:21 am

Hi, I am the founder and CEO of an organisation called Working Muslim and I deal with queries like this all the time. From a faith perspective, he does not need Fridays off. It is obligatory for a Muslim man to perform prayers in a mosque on a Friday, these prayers are at lunchtime. My suggestion is that you say to the gentleman you can accommodate his need to pray on a Friday by allowing an extended lunch break, however he needs to make up the time. So if your normal working day is 9-5, you could ask him to work 8-5 on a Friday.

It is also important for Muslims to ensure that they put in an appropriate amount of effort into their work and meet the terms of their contract. I wouldn’t suggest stating this so obviously, but being clear about the terms of the contract.

By the way, in a number of countries where the population is majority Muslim they still work on a Friday, just make sure that Friday prayers are accommodated.

I hope this helps. If you have any follow on questions please email my colleagues at info (@) working Muslim (. c o m).



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