From Christian Concern
The Court of Appeal has today (5th December) upheld protection of Sundays as a day of worship and rest for Christians. In a landmark judgment, the Court of Appeal dismissed earlier findings that Sunday observance was ‘not a core component of the Christian faith’. The ruling comes in the case of children’s worker, Celestina Mba.
The Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal had ruled that since not all Christians observe Sunday, it could not be a ‘core component’ of the Christian faith and was therefore not safeguarded.
Had such logic prevailed, Christians could not have expected the Courts to protect them from pressure to work on Sundays.
However, the Court of Appeal today rejected this reasoning saying that the faith of the individual believer should be recognised and in principle protected. Employment Tribunals must balance the religious beliefs of their employees in relation to business need. Crucially, the Court recognised that Sunday observance is a valid and genuine expression of faith for many Christians and cannot be simply jettisoned. This principle stands in sharp contrast to other cases in recent years.
Ms Mba resigned from her job at a Children’s home operated by Merton Council after being put under pressure to work on Sundays.
An Employment Tribunal had found that the committed Christian ‘genuinely believed’ that she had made it clear at her job interview that she was unable to work on Sundays owing to her faith. An initial agreement respected her Christian faith and she didn’t work on Sundays. But after two years her employer sought to change the arrangement.
Read also: Christian care worker who did not want to work on Sundays loses legal fight by Owen Bowcott, Guardian