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Christian care worker loses work-on-Sundays appeal case

A Christian care worker who claimed constructive dismissal when she left her job for refusing to work on Sundays has lost her Court of Appeal case. What lessons should employers draw from the ruling?

The claimant had warned her employer before accepting the job that she wouldn't work on Sundays because of her Christian faith. When a change of management resulted in her being told she would have to work weekend shifts, she resigned.

The appeal judges said that the employer's requirement that she work on Sundays could have amounted to indirect discrimination on grounds of religion or belief, had the employer not been able to show 'a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim'.

As it was, they decided that the employer had demonstrated the difficulty in accommodating her request.

Analysts said that the case should remind employers that they need to be careful and considerate in their response to requests of this type. If they can reasonably accommodate such requests, then they should do so, and only decline them if the needs of the business genuinely demand it.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Acas has published pdf  Religion or belief and the workplace - a guide for employers and employees [347kb], which contains detailed information on related matters, and runs practical training courses on Discrimination and Equality, diversity and the Equality Act 2010.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions page for more information.

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