PARIS - French companies are increasingly facing religious demands from their employees and need a change in the labour code to be able to reject requests they find unreasonable, an official report said on Thursday.
Most cases concern Muslims seeking time off for prayers or halal food in company cafeterias, but demands have also come from other faith groups as well as workers resentful of colleagues who get special treatment, officials said.
In recent years, France has banned religious dress such as Muslim headscarves in state schools and full facial veils in public, but it has no laws covering religious issues that may arise in private companies.
The High Council for Integration (HCI) report suggested a labour code amendment allowing companies "to include in their internal rules clauses about clothing, religious insignia and religious practices in the company".
Giving legal force to rules restricting religion in the workplace would ensure equal treatment for all employees and protect companies from discrimination suits based on religion, it added.
"The principles of neutrality and impartiality favour the correct functioning of a company," the report said. "So the absence of any expression of religion, be it a practice or ostentatious insignia, is strongly recommended."
Alain Seksig, author of the report, said the proposal would go to Prime Minister Francois Fillon and any change in the labour code would need to be approved by parliament