Court of Appeal says requirement to work on some Sundays justified

The Court of Appeal has confirmed a tribunal decision that required a committed Christian to work on a Sunday on an occasional basis in accordance with her contract of employment was objectively justified and did not discriminate against her because of her religion and belief.

Commenting on the decision in Mba v London Borough of Merton, Hogan Lovells’ employment partner, Elizabeth Slattery, said: ‘Certainly at Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) level this case was reported as meaning that Christians have no right to refuse to work on a Sunday. This is not correct.

‘What the Court of Appeal decision makes clear, as the EAT decision did before it, is that cases of this nature are extremely fact sensitive. Tribunals must balance the impact of the practice or policy (here a requirement to work on occasional Sundays) on the employee against the importance of the employer’s reasons for implementing it. In this case, the employer had given careful consideration to the issue in advance and was able to explain why it needed the employee to work on an occasional Sunday. These reasons were sufficiently cogent to persuade the tribunal that the policy was justified, despite its impact on the employee. This does not set a precedent for future cases, which will depend on their own facts’…

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