Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission David Isaac has urged businesses across the UK to stop being so sensitive about Christmas celebrations offending people of other faiths.
According to the watchdog, bosses should allow workers to enjoy the festive season by allowing them to hold office parties and exchange cards and gifts.
Increasingly, firms have been cautious about over indulging in Christmas spirit for fear of upsetting minority groups. But common sense should prevail – and Rob Dolbear, managing director of relocation specialist HCR, agrees.
“We deal with relocations not only in the UK but to and from countries across the world,” he says. “This involves preparing workers for a change in culture and traditions, depending on which country they are moving to.
“I think it’s incredibly important to respect the beliefs of any particular nation, whatever your own faith or culture might be. In the UK, many of us celebrate Christmas. Even non Christians partake in festive celebrations with their friends and colleagues, regardless of their own religious leanings.
“Our nation is a strong advocate of religious freedom. And I agree that this is a fundamental human right. I think, in recent times, firms here have become terrified of discriminating against non-Christians, like Muslim or Jewish workers. But you can respect these faiths whilst recognising that many people in the UK wish to mark Christmas.
“Being inclusive is important. But instead of not recognising any religion, perhaps the way forward is to recognise all of them and respect the rights of all. It is quite understandable that some may not wish to partake in festivities for any particular festival – whether it be Christmas, Ramadan, hanukkah, Vaisakhi and so on. But that doesn’t mean nobody should be able to.
“Christmas is a time for reflection, for giving and for tolerance. And I welcome any opportunity for my team to come together in celebration – for whatever reason.”