Bosses can ban Jewish men wearing a kippah or Muslim women wearing headscarves at work if their company has a general policy barring all political and religious symbols, a senior EU lawyer has said.

Juliane Kokott, an advocate general at the European Court of Justice said the hijab should be viewed no differently to a kippah, a Sikh turban or a Christian employee wearing a prominent crucifix.

She said: “While an employee cannot ‘leave’ his sex, skin colour, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age or disability ‘at the door’ upon entering his employer’s premises, he may be expected to moderate the exercise of his religion in the workplace.”

Her ruling came yesterday after a Belgian court sought to clarify what is banned under EU anti-discrimination laws.

Belgian receptionist Samira Achbita claimed religious discrimination after she was fired for wearing a headscarf to work.

Kokott’s ruling is however not binding and it is now up to the European Courts of Justice – the EU’s highest court – to consider the final guidance on the matter.