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This is based on notes from a workshop by Amanda Benzikri at Limoud Paris 2018.

Every religious person who is involved in the general secular society has probably experienced this: A conflict between expectations in the workplace and religious demands. The question for this workshop was how to deal with it on both sides, as an employer or an employee.

The main idea of the workshop was, that there is nothing unique about religious conflicts and that they should be addressed the same way as any other conflict. For example: A religious Jew would need to take Shabat and Jewish holidays off from work. This may mean leaving early or not being able to take shifts on a given day. So why is this not a uniquely religious problem? Because basically, it is a scheduling conflict. The exact same question is raised with an employee who has children that need to be picked up every day at 4 PM. Or the employee who needs to take days off to take care of a parent. The solution is to have guidelines of what is the expectation when people are needed to work and under which circumstances people can take their vacation days. The clearer the rules, the better for everybody, secular or religious.

Another example and potential point of conflict is religious dress. May a Muslim woman wear a hijab at work or a Jewish man a kippa? But again, the same issue is raised if someone wants to wear a hipster beard or for some reason only wears orange. The company needs to decide if there should be a dress code and how far this regulates dress. In some parts it may be the normal case to have a very restrictive dress code, e.g. for a bank or a receptionist in a fancy hotel. The dress code may include "no headcovering", but that is not a religious thing, it will also include fashion choices. In other places, dress is absolutely irrelevant for the job, so there would be absolutely no reason to enforce a dress code.

And so on for other potential conflicts. When we take out the emotional component that religion (or at least some religions) carries and look at the problem objectively, it simplifies the task of formulating clear rules about expectations in the workplace.