Can sportsmanship constitute a belief?

Football and belief

How passionate are you about sport?

A worker at Doosan Babcock Limited was a lifelong and staunch supporter of Glasgow Rangers FC. He described his support of the club as a way of life and as important to him as attending church would be to a Christian. He alleged that his manager denied him opportunity for work because his manager was a Celtic fan. The two clubs have a significant local rivalry based in faith. He claimed discrimination on the basis of his protected belief (his fervent support of Rangers). The criteria for determining whether a belief qualifies for protection under the Equality Act 2010 are: the belief must be genuinely held, it must be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available, it must be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour, it must attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance and it must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not be incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others. The Tribunal accepted that this belief was genuinely held but the other criteria were not satisfied. There is a difference between a belief which is the acceptance of something you believe to be true and support, which is being interested in and concerned about the success of something. Supporting a football team is not equivalent to a belief in something weighty and substantial. Many would not agree with that!

All change?

The government has announced the repeal of 2017 and 2021 IR35 reforms with effect from April 2023. The aim, which is part of the Growth Plan 2022, is to cut red tape. At the moment, the IR35 rules mean that liability for tax and NICs rests with end user companies and staffing agencies instead of the individual contractor via a personal service company. A return to the old regime will mean contractors (usually in the finance, construction and IT industries) will be able to be self-employed again, at least for tax purposes. This change will require delicate handling especially when end user companies and contractors have self-determination statements in existence which unequivocally assert that the engagement is inside IR35 and when many companies simply issue a blanket ban on the use of personal service companies. An issue to watch out for. The old rules still prevail right now.

The government has also just published the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) bill which, if passed, will remove all existing employment and health and safety legislation which is derived from the European Union by the end of 2023. At the moment there are 2400 pieces of retained EU law across 300 policy areas. Watch this space to see which employee rights survive, which are revived and what will disappear altogether.  

The information contained in the above article was correct at the time of publication. To ensure you are kept up to date with changes to employment law matters, click here to sign up to our dedicated employment database.

Learn more about Rebecca

All the articles above are written by our Partner & Head of Employment Rebecca Dennis. Rebecca’s professional background is unique in that she worked for more than 20 years as a barrister providing legal advice, drafting and advocacy for her clients and more recently provided specialist trouble-shooting services on employment law and employee relations at a leading international HR outsourcing company.

What Rebecca doesn’t know about Employment Law really isn’t worth knowing.

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