|In other words, although Muslim organisations can advertise for, recruit and employ Muslims this is only lawful if the employer can demonstrate in each case the specific reason and relate it to their organisational ethos.
Twelve years ago, the Muslim Community published a memorandum submitted to the Home Secretary of the day, calling for the removal of various lacunae in the law, including the need for legislation to outlaw discrimination on religious grounds. The Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations that came into force on 2nd December 2003 were a welcome development as it provided direct protection against religious discrimination in employment and vocational training. The Muslim Council of Britain, together with other religious communities, continues to press for similar legislation to outlaw discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services as well.
Legislation of this type bring with them both rights and responsibilities. Muslim institutions who are employers need to be fully cognisant of the Regulations and the special circumstances when it is valid to limit recruitment to adherents of the faith only. The legislation accepts that this exception is required, and allows for organisations to apply a Genuine Occupational Requirement (GOR) to such roles. In order to take advantage of this however, it must be shown that the organisation has defined the religious nature of its work and the ethos it subscribes to and that the job in question justifies the exemption.
The Faithworks team and The Muslim Council of Britain have created this pack to guide you through the process of doing just that. It is particularly important that persons in charge of the mosque affairs, the running of Muslim schools and Islamic charities take time to go through it and review their working practices where necessary. Further guidance can be obtained from the Legal Affairs committee of the MCB.
Sir Iqbal Sacranie
The Muslim Council of Britain
The primary purpose of this pack is to help your organisation understand and apply the religious discrimination legislation of 2nd December 2003. This is important because it makes discrimination on the grounds of religion and belief unlawful.
However, when a Muslim or Islamic* organisation advertises for a Muslim or chooses to employ someone because he/she is a Muslim, this is exactly what the employer is doing discrimination on the grounds of religion.
The legislation does provide some flexibility to allow religious organisations to maintain their faith basis. In other words, discrimination is acceptable within the law, but only where this can be justified.
Justifying that a post needs a Muslim to carry it out requires the employer to demonstrate that there is a `genuine occupational requirement', referred to as a GOR, for the post-holder to be a Muslim and that the requirement relates to the Muslim ethos of the organisation.
In other words, although Muslim organisations can advertise for, recruit and employ Muslims this is only lawful if the employer can demonstrate in each case the specific reason and relate it to their organisational ethos.
In addition we hope that the process set out in these guidelines will provide added value by helping you both to clarify and promote your religious distinctiveness.
As you reflect on how your Muslim faith basis makes you as an organisation distinctive, you will begin to describe the organisation's Muslim ethos. Becoming more specific about your ethos and values provides you with an opportunity to consider how they relate to your organisational practices and procedures.
Ensuring that your practices match your ethos -that you are who you say you are - will not only strengthen your organisational identity but will also help you to have more authenticity as a Muslim organisation - an essential characteristic in this increasingly diverse world.
Finally, please note that the purpose of this pack is not to advocate which staff, how many staff or that all staff should hold Muslim beliefs. Our purpose is simply to explain the legislation and to help organisations employ Muslims, within the law, institutions where it has been identified that there is a genuine need for them.
* For a clarification of our use of the terms 'Islamic Organisation' and 'Muslim Organisation', please see pages 10 and 11 of this pack.