Religion more and more present in business

VIDEO – Request for absence, working time arrangements, prayers… According to a study, 65% of employees say they have observed an increase in the religious fact in the company.

Religion is becoming more and more important in the company. This is what emerges from a survey carried out between April and June 2016 by the Randstad Institute and the Observatory of Religious Fact in Business (OFRE), unveiled this Thursday. 65% of employees say they have observed religious manifestations in the company, against 50% in 2015.

According to the authors of this study, this clear progression testifies to the fact that “the presence of the religious fact is asserted” and “is becoming commonplace” in the companies, but “most of the time without that posing a problem”. Even if Islam is often cited, all religions are concerned, ensures the study. In 91% of cases, these religious convictions are expressed through personal requests and practices such as requests for absence for a religious holiday or for the organization of working time (planning, schedules), the ostentatious wearing of religious symbols and prayers during breaks. “This is the majority of cases and they do not hinder work,” explains Lionel Honoré, university professor and director of OFRE.

On the other hand, some cases, in the minority, are conflicting. The study puts these cases at 9% of the total facts observed in 2016, against 6% in 2015, 3% in 2014 and 2% in 2013. Among the situations that are sources of conflict are proselytism, refusal to perform certain tasks, to work with a woman or under her orders or even the request to work only with co-religionists … These cases would be concentrated in certain sectors of the economy with low-skilled labor (automotive equipment manufacturers, construction, processing of waste, mass distribution, etc.) and in peri-urban geographic areas.

Out of 48% of managers confronted with the issue of the expression of religious convictions at work, 14% had to face a conflicting fact in 2016, against 12% in 2015, according to the study. Field supervisors seem, however, better equipped to deal with situations relating to religion, in particular with a better knowledge of the legal framework. “They have more benchmarks, make the difference between what is religious radicalism and demands relating to their classic managerial knowledge”, explains the academic.

“The people questioned are open to pragmatic responses to requests from employees with a religious dimension”

The Randstad / OFRE study

“Employees get together to impose their prayers during work, they appropriate places as prayer rooms, put pressure on the manager by accusing him of Islamophobia … This is to be taken very seriously because it is not more a question of behavior, it is a questioning of the republican law and it is necessary to be very firm ”, assures Lionel Honoré. For him, “the company needs strong political actions upstream”.

For the employees questioned, however, there was no question of imposing a law on religion at work. More than 60% of respondents are opposed to it. While the labor law provides that the internal regulations of companies can “contain provisions inscribing the principle of neutrality and restricting the manifestation of employee convictions” under certain conditions, 65% of those questioned are opposed to it. They “do not want the company to impose religious neutrality on its employees, in particular through internal regulations”. “The people questioned are open to pragmatic responses to requests from employees with a religious dimension, but not to the company organizing itself according to religious prescriptions”, commented the authors.

In addition, 80% of the people questioned “generally know the religion of their colleagues” and 82% are “not embarrassed”. However, “discomfort is on the rise: 18% against 8% in 2015”, according to the study.


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