I have recently come upon a problem as an employer.
I have a software company, and for the most part we have 1,2 big projects going at a time, and then smaller side projects. Sometimes deadlines are really pushing and we need everyone to give their best. From the current time planning, it is clear that one of the big projects will come into the finish phase around May this year. Last year around this time I ran into problems with some employees, with Islam being their religious affiliation. They simply said that they are fasting and cannot work to their fullest. Their performance dropped noticeably, and I had to push more work on other employees, which did not seem fair, but at the time I did not know any better.
I am trying to treat everyone equal and yet the best possible, because from my experience a happy employee is a productive employee, but there have been some bumps on the road. First, some employees have complained that Muslim employees get 3 times a day off for 5 minutes for praying, and non muslims have requested a 15 minute break as well(Which I find petty), however, since the praying time does not fall within the regular breaks, I do not know how to handle this request. On one hand, they are spending this time to pray, but on the other hand, it is time their colleagues are working. What do I do about this? Do I say that prayers have to match lunch breaks, or do I give extra 15 to everyone?
Furthermore, some senior developers have expressed their concerns regarding the project mentioned above, since last year it got hectic, and we are now aware of incoming problems during fasting. As I see it, employees that fast are not reliable during this period, and I was thinking of reassigning them to the smaller projects and pulling in other workers during the fasting time. However, can this be seen as discriminatory? I think not, but maybe I am wrong? As I see it, I provide them with a job and projects, but leaving them on the main team would jeopardize the project, company, and ultimately the jobs of all employees. And it is true that during fasting they cannot perform at the level of others.
So these are my main 2 questions, but I am going to rant a bit now:
There are so many religions today, and we as employers are not allowed to discriminate against someone by not hiring them based on their religion, which is understandable. But what if someone comes with ridiculous requests based on their religion (Just speculating)? For example, "My religion requires me to take a nap for 30 minutes at 15:00 to please the God". It is a silly example, but could I refuse the position to this fictional man, or offer him lower,proportional salary?