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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50160
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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Hi I work as a teacher in a private school and have been there

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I work as a teacher in a private school and have been there 13 years. Once a year they have a Carol service in the nearby church. The carol service is not part of the working day as it starts at 7.00pm in the evening. I have never attended because I am not a Christian, I follow a Humanist approach. This has never been a problem before; however we now,since September, have a new Headmistress who is a committed Christian.
I was notified by email 2 weeks previous to the carol service that I had been given the role of an usher at the Carol service. I immediately replied that I'm not a Christian and don't attend church services. I didn't attend and now have to see the Headmistress and the Human Resources in January to explain my non attendance, even though I had notified the Deputy Head . The School is not a faith school. My question is, do I have any protection for my beliefs in law.
Thanking you
***** *****e
Ben Jones : Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. Does your contract say anything about this? Also has the employer taken any formal action against you apart from the meeting? Please note I am in tribunal today so may not be able to respond fully until later this afternoon thanks



Hi There is nothing, to my knowledge, in my contract which refers to this. The new Head tends to the use the phrase 'There is an expectation...' attached to anything she wants done where there has never been a formal requirement before. Her last email to me about this said, of bringing in Gill***** ***** the Human Resources officer '

'Gillian was invited to the meeting to be able to give information with regards ***** ***** and in particular the expectations of a teacher and a member of Middle Management at Burgess Hill.' I feel they haven't really got a leg to stand on and are just trying to bully their own way. As mentioned before, this has never been an issue for the 13 years I have worked at the school. Tim


Sorry, I forgot to reply to your other question regarding any formal action. This meeting will be as far it has got so far.

Ben Jones :

Thanks for your patience. I agree with you that legally they do not really have a leg to stand on and it appears that this is something they are trying to force this through in their own way by applying such tactics.

First of all you cannot be expected to do anything outside of your normal working hours in relation to work if it is not covered by your contract. The same could even apply to activities within your working hours because your duties and responsibilities would be determined by what is in there and what has been accepted over time as being custom and practice. In your case there is nothing in your contract about this and it has never been expected of you so their argument would fail on both grounds.

You will also have protection under the Equality Act 2010, which provides protection against discrimination on grounds of religion or belief. Under section 10, "religion" includes lack of religion and "belief" includes lack of belief. Therefore, non-believers have the same rights as believers. You cannot be treated detrimentally or discriminated against because of your lack of religion or belief.

Whilst the employer is not taking any further action and I would hope that is the end of it, you are able to raise the above factors in your defence and remind them that if your decision is not to participate in these activities, then the employer should respect that.

Hope this clarifies your position? If you could please let me know that would be great, thank you


Thanks so much for your help. I will let you know the outcome in the New Year. Again, many thanks

Ben Jones :

you are welcome, all the best

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