Prayer Breaks in the Workplace

  • Working Time
Peninsula Logo

Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Read our article: 'Prayer Breaks in the Workplace'. Contact us today for more information about our Employment Law, Health & Safety, and HR services.

Am I obliged to let my employee leave their work-station to pray?

There is no statutory requirement for employers to provide prayer breaks for employees wishing to take them. Accommodating prayer breaks is generally at the discretion of the employer. Employers may well accommodate prayer breaks, what more this will be considered as good practice and will help to build virtuous relationships within the workplace but where an employer refuses this request, they may have to justify his refusal i.e. he could not accommodate the employee’s request due to business needs and job requirements. That being said where cigarette or toilet breaks are allowed, which is common practice, it may be difficult for an employer to provide reasons for the refusal of a prayer break.

If the employer does accommodate prayer breaks, they can amend the contract of employment if need be, however, it depends on the arrangements being made. For example an employee may agree to a shorter lunch break in order to use that forsaken time for prayer breaks. This may be amended in their contract of employment. However, for some religious groups, prayer times are constantly changing and this may be problematic for employers having to constantly update contracts. Alternatively it would be more convenient for the employer and employee to reach a general agreement. Accommodation of religious worship does not imply extensive arrangements therefore a prayer room is not necessary but if there is a suitable room with appropriate hygiene facilities, it may be in the employer’s interest to permit access.

Just because a contract of employment doesn’t stipulate any provisions for prayer breaks it doesn’t mean they cannot be made afterwards. Upon any change to a contract of employment, the new version must be given in writing to the employee within one month of the change and the employee must agree to the new terms in order for the contract to continue. Remember the contract of employment is only part of the governance of an employment relationship; it is not the only place for terms and conditions of employment to be set.

To reiterate, there is no legal requirement to allow religious worship in the workplace. But since religion and belief is one of the protected characteristics contained in the Equality Act 2010, if an employer rejects a request in relation to religion or belief which results in less favourable treatment to that employee and the employer cannot justify his refusal, then the employee may have grounds to bring a discrimination claim. Accommodating your employees’ needs creates trust and confidence creating an active workforce which then creates success for your business.

For any further information please call our 24 hour advice service on 0844 892 2772.


Got a question? Check whether we’ve already answered it for you…

Related articles

  • a jar of coins labelled holiday


    Rolled up holiday pay set to return: what exactly is it?

    Rolled up holiday pay has been unlawful since 2006 but is set to make a comeback. Those who begun their careers in HR or payroll before then will need to dust off the old guidance and re-familiarise.

    Peninsula GroupHR and Health & Safety Experts
    • Leave and Absence
  • Three office workers sat around a table.


    Should you hire someone who’s unfriendly in the interview?

    We often expect candidates to be smiley, friendly, and confident in their interview. But here’s why that’s not always the right way to think about it…

    Alan PriceChief Operations Officer
    • Recruitment
  • Two people at a desk reviewing financial documents


    The bank holiday rush: how to manage last minute leave requests

    If your staff are trying to maximise their time off around bank holidays, it could put you in a tricky spot. Read more to learn how to navigate clashing holiday requests.

    James PottsLegal Services Director
    • Leave and Absence
Back to resource hub

Try Peninsula for free today

See for yourself why Peninsula is the UK’s favourite HR and health & safety provider. Tap below to unlock free advice, policies, e-learning, and more.

Sign up to our newsletter

Get the latest news & tips that matter most to your business in our monthly newsletter.

International sites

© 2023 Peninsula Business Services Limited. Registered Office: The Peninsula, Victoria Place, Manchester, M4 4FB. Registered in England and Wales No: 1702759. Peninsula Business Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for the sale of non-investment insurance contracts.

ISO 27001 and 9001 accredited company.
The Sunday Times - Top Track 250.
Glassdoor 2018 Best Places To Work.