The COVID-19 pandemic and staff wearing beards
Is the employer’s request lawful and reasonable?
Should employers take steps to accommodate staff who refuse?
Does it make any difference if a refusal by an employee to shave off a beard is on religious grounds?
- Did the employer apply a rule (to be clean shaven) to the employee of a particular religion as well as employees who do not share that characteristic?
- Did the rule put or would it put the employee and persons of that particular religion at a particular disadvantage compared to others? and
- Can the employer show the rule to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim and that all other reasonable options and alternatives had been attempted?
- Controlling risks to staff and patient safety during a pandemic - that I would think could be argued to be a legitimate aim in these unprecedented times
- In the absence of any reasonable, available alternative such as different equipment or redeployment - is requesting that staff are clean shaven a proportionate means of achieving that aim? I would think that could be argued to be a proportionate means of achieving that aim but full details of each case would require to be considered to give a definitive view.