At least a million British workers may have been discriminated against because of their religion, according to a report from pollsters ComRes.

The report, which interviewed 251 HR managers and 984 workers, concluded that “British employers struggle to manage expressions of religion and belief in the workplace”.

One respondent said: “In our office, everyone is very respectful of minorities and would never be disparaging about women or people with disabilities, but when it comes to religion it’s fair game. People can be very insulting, especially when they express it through humour.”

Three per cent of respondents said they had been discriminated against because of their religion. Nine per cent said they had faced ageist prejudice, seven per cent said they had experienced sexism. Just two per cent had experienced discrimination on grounds of sexuality or disability.

But ComRes said the figure for religious discrimination – three per cent, i.e. around a million workers – does not include smaller forms of disadvantage, such as “being overlooked informally or excluded socially”. One respondent said: “I was having training about coping with extremely stressful situations and, in the discussion, didn’t feel able to say that I usually pray at times like that. I thought it might make people feel uncomfortable.”

ComRes’s Faith Research Centre carried out the study. Its director, Katie Harrison, said a good test of a workplace was: “Do people always say what they did at the weekend, or do they leave out the part about pursuing a religious- or belief-related activity?”

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