A new guide has been published to help employers avoid discrimination cases relating to religion.

The Chartered Management Institute’s (CMI) religion and belief in the workplace guide was launched in response to an increase in workplace discrimination cases based on religious grounds.

According to the CMI, there were 600 cases handled by the courts in the year to April 2008 compared to 486 in the 12 months leading up to April 2006.

Jo Causon, director of marketing and corporate affairs at the CMI said that it was important for employers to "know the law and work within it".

However, he said they must also ensure they "manage relationships". He explained: "It is unacceptable to discriminate on the basis of religion, belief or any other form of discrimination. What matters is that employees have the skills and abilities to do the job."

Instead, he said that diversity in the workplace should be embraced.

One of the recommendations in the guide is for companies to ensure their policies and procedures are updated to avoid discriminating against employees who hold particular beliefs.

A recent high profile case involving religious beliefs was that of Caroline Petrie, a Christian nurse who was temporarily suspended for offering to pray for a patient.