In the House of Lords last night, Lord Polak CBE spoke about the issues faced by observant Jews in the workplace and recommended the wide distribution of the Board of Deputies’ employer’s guide to Judaism.
During a debate on the issues faced by black and minority ethnic people in the workplace in Britain, CFI’s Honorary President referred to the “difficulties” that Jewish people can face, particularly due to the observance of the Sabbath.
He also raised awareness of the anti-Semitic discrimination faced by number of Jews at work, noting that in 2015, the Community Security Trust reported that 26 anti-Semitic incidents took place in the workplace.
In his speech, Lord Polak referred to ‘The Employer’s Guide to Judaism’, a pamphlet produced and distributed by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
He said that the leaflet was produced “in the belief that education is the best way to combat prejudice”.
Lord Polak quoted the guide, stating: “It is not possible for the observant Jew simply to waive, for example, observance of the Sabbath”, which can lead to the need for reasonable adjustments to be made in the workplace.
He said that “one can insert any religious grouping instead of ‘Jewish’” for the following extract from the guide: “It is imperative that discrimination does not occur at any point during the employment process, including during the interview before employment, or during the notice period at the end of employment”.
He continued: “Employers must not discriminate against a Jewish candidate on the basis of their religion or religious requirements”.
Lord Polak concluded: “Through education and information, some of the issues that I have raised can be dealt with. I recommend that my noble friends the Minister and Lady McGregor-Smith take a look at this guide. It may be helpful for other communities in Britain. Widespread distribution to the public and private sectors could be an extra piece of ammunition in ensuring diversity in the workplace”.
The full text of Lord Polak’s speech can be found here.