Nobody will be forced...
Blogged by James Preece on 23rd January 2013
Dylan Parry makes the important point that back in 1994 the Sunday Trading Act was passed only after many assurances were made that nobody would have to work on a Sunday.
Thanks to the magic of Google and the online version of Hansard (the official record of what got said in Parliament) I can refer you to the second reading of the Sunday Trading Bill on 8th March 1994 in the House of Lords...
Baroness Gould of Potternewton
none of the options would have been acceptable to me without the provision for all employees, present and future, whether on the shop floor, in the loading bay, or elsewhere, to have the statutory protection to work when and where they choose and to be confident that they will suffer no retribution for declining to work on a Sunday.
Baroness Turner of Camden
It is not too much to say that the reason for the failure of previous attempts to legislate for general Sunday trading was the concern of people from all parties about the pressure that might be put on shopworkers to work on Sundays against their will.
The Bill provides that present and future shopworkers may opt out of Sunday working without any penalty and that dismissal of an opted-out worker of whatever age is automatically unfair if the reason for dismissal is the refusal or proposed refusal to do work on Sundays.
I shall just remind your Lordships how comprehen-sive those measures are. All existing shopworkers have immediate protection from being required to work on Sunday unless they are Sunday-only workers. To qualify for protection, workers will not have to serve a qualifying period of service; the protection will apply even if they are beyond the normal retirement age, and it makes no difference how many hours a week they work.
The protection is not limited to shop assistants. Whether you are a shop manager, a canteen worker, or the person who collects the trolleys from around the shop, you will still qualify for protection if you work in or about a shop which opens on Sunday.
It is not only existing employees who are covered by the provisions. New recruits will also be protected.
That is what was said in the House of Lords as the Bill was being debated. Here is what actually happened...
Christians have no right to refuse to work on Sundays, rules judge
A new ruling by a High Court judge - the first on the issue in nearly a decade - says that Christians have no right to decline working on Sunday as it is not a “core component” of their beliefs.
The judgment - which upholds an earlier decision - means that individual Christians do not have any protection from being fired for not working on Sundays.
Campaigners said the decision puts Christians at a disadvantage to other religions and means the judiciary are deciding what the core beliefs of Christians can be, which they say is an interference in the right to practise religion.
The judgment was issued by Mr Justice Langstaff as he ruled on an appeal brought by a Christian woman who was sacked after she refused to work on Sundays at a care home.
Turns out those comprehensive measures were not all they were cracked up to be. Perhaps you can understand my failure to be reassured when Mr Cameron says this...
"But let me be absolutely 100% clear: if there is any church or any synagogue or any mosque that doesn't want to have a gay marriage it will not, absolutely must not, be forced to hold it.
"That is absolutely clear in the legislation.
We've heard that one before...