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Board of Deputies assists religious workers in Yom Tov disputes

    The Board of Deputies has received an unusually high number of requests for help this year from Jews having trouble taking time off for festivals.

    To date 12 people have approached the Board. One reason may be because all seven Orthodox Yomtovim, from Rosh Hashanah to Simchat Torah, fall on a weekday this year.

    Marcelle Palmer, public affairs officer for the Board, said: “Normally, people have tried to sort it out first with their employers. In most cases, we have intervened directly.

    “We have been successful in all cases bar one — and that is ongoing. That person is not actually from a school or college, but is a public sector worker.”

    Although there are laws against religious discrimination, Mrs Palmer explained, “your employer is not obligated to give time off. But it is incumbent on employer and employee to find reasonable adjustments — in the employee’s case by offering to work different hours, perhaps, or taking the days off unpaid".

    Some companies can also be thrown by having one Jewish worker who asks only for the High Holy Days off while someone else, more observant, requests leave for all the chagim.

    “When we write,” Mrs Palmer said, “we do explain all the festivals, as employers who get a request from someone to take off all seven days can be sceptical.”

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