An interesting article written by Brabners LLP
As cases relating to COVID-19 begin to reach the Employment Tribunal, we are getting a clearer understanding of how established principles of employment law will be applied to some of the unique challenges of the past two years.
Most recently, an Employment Tribunal decided that a fear of contracting COVID-19 was not sufficient to amount to a ‘philosophical belief’ and therefore did not attract the protection of the Equality Act 2010.
In the case of X v Y , the Employment Tribunal was asked to consider whether a fear of becoming infected with COVID-19 was a legally protected belief.
In accordance with the Equality Act 2010, employees are entitled to protection against unlawful discrimination on account of their religion or belief. ‘Belief’ is deemed to include any religious or philosophical belief, or a lack thereof.
In order to be protected, a philosophical belief must be genuinely held and must amount to more than simply an opinion. The belief must relate to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour, and be cogent, serious, cohesive and important. There is also a requirement that such a belief be worthy of respect in a democratic society, and not affect other people’s fundamental rights.
Previously, pacifism and ethical veganism have been recognised as protected philosophical beliefs, however, in this case the Tribunal decided that a fear of catching COVID-19 was not sufficient to be protected.