General Pharmaceutical Council guidance on religion, personal values & beliefs

The General Pharmaceutical Council – the independent regulator for pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy premises in Great Britain – has published In practice: Guidance on religion, personal values and beliefs. In summary, it notes that

“In some cases, a pharmacy professional’s religion, personal values or beliefs may influence their day-to-day practice, particularly whether they feel able to provide certain services. This might include, for example, services related to:

  • contraception (routine or emergency)
  • fertility medicines
  • hormonal therapies
  • mental health and wellbeing
  • substance misuse
  • sexual health.”

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Law and religion round-up – 18th June

And in a week overshadowed by the horrendous fire at Grenfell Tower and the fallout from the General Election …

Access for Northern Ireland women to free abortion in England

On Thursday we posted Frank’s analysis of R (A and B) v Secretary of State for Health [2017] UKSC 41 in which the Supreme Court considered:

  • Was the Secretary of State ‘s failure to exercise his power to require abortion services to be provided through the NHS in England to women ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland unlawful as a failure to discharge his duty under s 3 of the National Health Service Act 2006 to “take such steps as he considers necessary to meet all reasonable requirements” for services?
  • Does the continuing failure to provide free abortion services in England to women ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland infringe Articles 14 (discrimination) and 8 (private and family life) ECHR?

The appeal was dismissed by a 3-2 majority, and we suggested that it is quite possible that the case is bound for Strasbourg. Continue reading

Parish Music Guidance: employment issues

Part II of our analysis of new CofE legal opinion on organists and parish music

An earlier post considered the Church of England’s updated legal advice Parish Music: organists and choirmasters and church musicians (*the Opinion”), focusing on the issues relating to organists (and “all musicians in similar positions”), music and the clergy. Here we comment the employment issues addressed in the document and consider in more detail the cases referred to in the Opinion: Sholl v PCC of St Michael’s with St James, Croydon, paragraph 12, and three German cases before the ECtHR – Obst, Schüth and Siebenhaar, paragraph 18. For completeness, additional material on of Ready-Mixed Concrete (South East) Ltd v Minister of Pensions and National Insurance and Neary v Dean of Westminster has also been included. Specific references to the canon law of the Church of England apart, much of the advice is relevant to other religious communities.

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Does an employer discriminate by behaving inconsistently with religious values? – Keens-Betts

Can an employee claim direct or indirect discrimination on grounds of religion because she feels that her employer’s behaviour is inconsistent with what she understands to be “the Christian way of life”? That was one of the issues raised in Miss M Keens-Betts v The Anthony Gregg Partnership Ltd [2017] UKET 2208102/2016.

Miss Keens-Betts, a litigant in person, did not assert that she was treated any differently or worse than a non-Christian or non-religious person would have been treated. What she argued was that her employers’ poor behaviour was of itself inconsistent with religious values and that, because her employer knew of her religious values, she was particularly vulnerable to bullying because she felt obliged to “turn the other cheek” [14]. In her words: Continue reading

The Apprenticeship Levy and the Church of England

Funding of clergy training through the Apprenticeship Levy

In his Autumn Statement on 25 November 2015, the Chancellor announced the introduction of legislation for the charging of an Apprenticeship Levy (“the Levy”) on employers in all sectors whose annual pay bills exceed £3M, with a view to assisting the delivery of new apprenticeships. The legislation was introduced in Part 6 of the Finance Act 2016 and became effective on 6 April 2017. The Church of England expressed interest in the Levy and on 5 May 2016, in response to a question by Mark Spencer (Sherwood) (Con) [HC Hansard, 5 May 2016, Vol 609, Col 307], Caroline Spelman, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, said: Continue reading

Lady Hale on indirect discrimination: Essop and Naeem

Introduction

In Essop & Ors v Home Office (UK Border Agency) [2017] UKSC 27, there were two conjoined cases: Essop and Naeem v Secretary of State for Justice. The Supreme Court gave a unanimous judgment on both.

The issue before the Court was the interpretation of indirect discrimination as defined in s 19 of the Equality Act 2010: Continue reading

Urgent Commons question on CJEU rulings in Achbita and Bougnaoui

Visible Religious Symbols: European Court Ruling

This morning, 15 March, Mrs Maria Miller (Basingstoke) (Con) asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities “if she will make a statement on the recent Court of Justice of the European Union ruling allowing employers to ban workers from wearing religious dress and symbols in the workplace”. Following is a quick summary of the most important points.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities (Caroline Dinenage) replied as follows:

“The Government are completely opposed to discrimination, including on grounds of gender or religion, or both. It is the right of all women to choose how they dress, and we do not believe that the judgments change that. Exactly the same legal protections apply today as applied before the rulings. In both the Achbita case and the Bougnaoui case, the judgment was that there was no direct discrimination, but that there was some discrimination. A rule is directly discriminatory if it treats someone less favourably because of their sex, race, religion or whatever. A rule is indirectly discriminatory if, on the face of it, it treats everyone the same, but some people, because of their race, religion, sex and so on, find it harder to comply than others do. Indirect discrimination may be justifiable if an employer is acting in a proportionate manner to achieve a legitimate aim. Continue reading