What is our liability when deploying people to countries where the practice of some or all religions is prohibited; or where, for example, homosexuality is forbidden under law and any breach may incur criminal charges and penalties?
A number of organisations provide guidelines for employees travelling to such countries. There are also best practice guidelines for employers whose customers may be travelling in such areas (e.g. gay travel companies).
The employer must balance legal and moral responsibilities for employee welfare (e.g. to provide a safe working environment) with the requirement not to discriminate. The exclusion from assignment of certain groups of employees (whether determined by for example race, sex, sexual orientation or religion) would class as direct discrimination, and conditions which weigh more heavily on certain groups might be determined to be indirectly discriminatory. Whilst an overseas legal ban on certain groups may be seen as comparable with an exemption for statutory authority, care must be exercised to avoid appeasing public opinion and pressure groups in other situations which are less clear cut.