Religious holidays and accommodation

Accommodating different religions means sometimes being flexible with the work schedule
By Curtis Armstrong
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 10/17/2012

As employers begin to think about holiday season scheduling, they should remember that there are many religious holidays that occur throughout the year, for which employees may require time off to observe or celebrate. Eid-al Adha, Diwali, Ashura, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Lunar New Year, and varying dates for Christmas are only a few of the religious days employees may observe.

In Ontario, the obligation to accommodate observance of religious holidays is rooted in the Human Rights Code, which — like human rights legislation across Canada — protects an employee from discrimination on the basis of creed (religion). But what exactly does this mean as it relates to workplace scheduling? How far must an employer go to meet its legal obligation? With foresight, collaboration and planning, there are many scheduling options that can work for both the employer and employee.

What’s discriminatory and what’s not?