Question: Are employers required to grant employees time off from work for religious holidays?
According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, covered employers must make reasonable accommodations for employees’ religious observances. The act generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees, although some state laws may create similar obligations for smaller employers.
The act clearly states that accommodation for an employee’s religion must be made unless the employer can demonstrate that they are unable to reasonably accommodate the religious observance without undue hardship. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “An accommodation may cause undue hardship if it is costly, compromises workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, infringes on the rights of other employees, or requires other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work.”
Note: Federal law does not require employers to compensate employees for time taken off in observance of a religious holiday, practice, or belief. However, an employer must offer the same options for religious holiday requests as it does for other time off requests.
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