My religion does not permit me to dress in the way my employer would like me to. What can I do?

Employers should try to avoid including elements in a dress code that unjustifiably conflict with someone's religion or religious beliefs.

An employer that wants to impose dress rules that bring them into potential conflict with employees’ religious values should consult carefully, listen to responses, act proportionately and be able to justify their decisions.

For example, banning the wearing of a cross by a Christian nurse in a hospital setting for reasons of health and safety is unlikely to be unlawful religious discrimination, but the same health and safety considerations would not necessarily apply to a hospital receptionist.

A considerate employer should recognise a genuine claim that you are prohibited from dressing in a certain way. An example of good practice in this area is how the Metropolitan Police approach the issue of headwear, for example allowing female Muslim officers to wear specially designed headscarves.

A good employer will discuss the issue with you and try to find a solution that works. Ask your rep for support if you have one. If you do not, and you are not able to resolve the issue informally with your employer, consider approaching the Acas early conciliation service for help persuading your employer to see your point of view.  You can also talk things through with an advisor by using the Equality and Advisory Service helpline.

In 2015, the law changed to formally allow Sikhs to wear turbans in workplaces across the UK. There are some exemptions for reasons of safety (for example, the armed forces or firefighters in an emergency response).

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.