June 4, 2015

Jilbab discrimination. A change in the law

This post was written by: Amarjit Atwal

jilbab discimination legal blog banner

A recent decision in the Employment Appeals Tribunal has changed the way the law looks at individuals who wear a jilbab when assessing health and safety compliance. A jilbab is a floor length gown worn by certain female followers of the Muslim faith and usually reaches down to the wearer’s ankles. However the recent decision has held that a jilbab that is longer than the ankles may be a breach of health and safety.

In Begum v Montessori Day Nursery an individual applying for a role of nursery assistant was informed that her jilbab would be a trip hazard due to the fact that it trailed on the ground. The applicant brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal and the matter eventually reached the Employment Appeal Tribunal where it was heard recently.

The Tribunal held that the PCP (provision, criterion or practice) that the nursery had in place with regards to dress code could not possibly put Muslim women at a disadvantage, as an ankle-length jilbab would have complied with the dress code and have been acceptable, without prejudicing the Muslim faith.

Recently the Sikh Council UK successfully influenced the implementation of new legislation following years of extensive campaigning, to stop discrimination against the turban in the workplace. While employment legislation introduced in 1989 allowed Sikhs to wear turbans in place of hard hats and safety helmets where there was a risk of head injuries, Sikhs were still not allowed to wear turbans in factories and warehouses.

While there are still professions where Sikh individuals will have to wear safety helmets, such as roles in the armed forces, this new legislation ensures that ethnic minorities can maintain their religious identity in the workplace.

If you feel that you are suffering from discrimination in the workplace, call our team of employment solicitors for advice today on 01753 486 777. Alternatively come into our offices at Windsor Crown House, 7 Windsor Road, Slough, SL1 2DX.


Amarjit Atwal