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Divinity and dismissal

PJ Kirby QC considers the impact of Preston on employment status

11 June 2013

"Depart, I say, and let us be done with you. In the name of God go!" A suitable manner for Oliver Cromwell to seek to dismiss the Rump Parliament but such language is not generally recommended for dismissing an employee. But could such a command be fine if the person is a Methodist minister, who should depart whistling wistfully the hymns of Charles Wesley? Is this the effect of the decision of the Supreme Court in the President of the Methodist Conference v Preston [2013] UKSC 29 and does it have any wider impact on the issue of employment status?

Ms Preston was ordained into the Methodist Church in 2003. In 2005 following an exchange of letters she accepted an invitation to become the Superintendent Minister on the Redruth Circuit. In 2009 she resigned and claimed constructive dismissal. The issue was whether or not she was an employee and therefore entitled to bring a claim for unfair dismissal under section 94 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. The Emplo...

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