Church of England freehold incumbents not “employees”: Sharpe v Bishop of Worcester

See also: Not a Sharpe Turn: a note on Sharpe v Bishop of Worcester.

The Court of Appeal (Arden, Davis and Lewison LJJ) has handed down judgment in Sharpe v The Bishop of Worcester [2015] EWCA Civ 399 and held unanimously that the Revd Mr Sharpe, formerly freehold Rector of Teme Valley South in the Diocese of Worcester, was not an “employee” of the Bishop of Worcester for the purposes of his claim for unfair dismissal or a “worker” for the purposes of his other claims. Continue reading

Manifesting religion in the workplace: Wasteney v East London NHS Foundation Trust


In our round-up on 12 April we mentioned the case of Victoria Wasteney, who worked for East London NHS Foundation Trust as Head of Forensic Occupational Therapy, mainly at the John Howard Centre – a secure mental health services facility for patients admitted under the Mental Health Act 1983. She had been given a final written warning by the Trust for three charges of misconduct – praying with EN, a Muslim colleague of Pakistani heritage, giving her a book about a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity, and inviting her to church events – though that had subsequently been reduced on appeal to a first written warning.

A transcript of the Employment Tribunal determination has now been posted on the National Secular Society’s website: Wasteney v East London NHS Foundation Trust [2015] ET 3200658/2014. Continue reading

Northern Ireland Assembly rejects same-sex marriage again

This afternoon, 27 April, the Northern Ireland Assembly debated a Private Members’ Business Motion on marriage equality. The motion, in the names of Caitríona Ruane, Sinn Féin MLA for South Down, and others, read as follows:

“That this Assembly welcomes the marriage equality referendum in the south of Ireland; notes that a growing number of parliaments across the world have embraced, and legislated for, marriage equality; respects the rights of the religious institutions to define, observe and practise marriage within their beliefs; and calls on the Executive to legislate for marriage equality for same sex couples so that all citizens will have the same legal entitlement to the protections, responsibilities, rights, obligations and benefits afforded by the legal institution of marriage.”

The motion was defeated by 49 votes to 47.  Continue reading

Cremation certification: some Anglo-Scottish issues

Last month we posted an item on the Scottish Government’s consultation on burial and cremation law, which Scottish ministers feel is long overdue for reform and updating. The consulation closed on 24 April.

The law surrounding death in Scotland has always been different from the law in England and Wales. Scotland does not have coroners; instead, the Lord Advocate is responsible for investigating any death that requires further explanation and there is a Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit within Crown Office responsible for investigating all sudden, suspicious, accidental and unexplained deaths. Once a death has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal, the Fiscal has legal responsibility for the deceased’s body, usually until a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) is written by a doctor and given to the nearest relative. Continue reading