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How can you prevent discrimination on the ground of 'conscience'? Find out here

by , 22 April 2016
Under the hallowed Employment Equity Act, it's a well-known fact that you, as a designated employer, can't discriminate unfairly against any of your employees.

In other words, you can't discriminate against any of them on a number of grounds.

Now, while many of these grounds, such as age, gender, race, marital status, religion, pregnancy, HIV status, etcetera, are pretty straightforward, there's one particular ground which springs a lot of confusion among countless employers.

I'm talking about discrimination on the ground 'conscience'.

Many of you may be wondering: 'What does that even mean?' And no, it doesn't refer to discrimination against Pinocchio's Jiminy Cricket, but it is something like that.

Keep reading to find out what it is and how you can deal with it in the workplace...

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Conscience refers to the way someone feels about something. And you supposedly can't discriminate against someone because of it.

For example, you may have an employee who doesn't wish to work with alcohol because of her conscience, or another who refuses to handle firearms for the same reason.

So how can you deal with situations like this?

While they're entitled to their beliefs, such beliefs mustn't interfere with their jobs, especially the inherent requirements for their jobs.

You should make it clear what your employees will be required to do on the job from the day you start recruiting them. This way they'll know exactly what's required of them, which in turn will prevent them from being able to refuse these activities because of conscious objections.

So, from the above examples, serving alcohol at a bar, as a waitress, could be seen as an inherent requirement for the job, and having to carry firearms could very well be a requirement for a security officer.

If any of these factors interfere with their conscience, the chances are it'll also interfere with their jobs, and so you can have reason to discriminate against them.

TIP: It's highly recommended that you clearly state all the requirements for the job in the job advertisements as well as in the interview.

*To learn more on discrimination in the workplace, and how to prevent it, page over to Chapter E 03 in your Practical Guide to Human Resources Management handbook today.

If you don't already have this fantastic resource, click here to learn more.
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Revealed: The ONE checklist that'll show you if you're complying with all 26 changes to the Employment Equity Act...
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