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  • Writer's pictureRobert Spicer


Fear of Covid-19

Refusal to attend workplace Case X v Y (2021) Manchester Employment Tribunal, December 24 Facts In July 2020 X decided not to return to her workplace on health and safety grounds. She said that she had a genuine fear of catching Covid-19 and a fear of passing it on to her partner who was at high risk of becoming seriously unwell from the virus. Her employer told her that she would not be paid and withheld her wages. X complained of discrimination on the grounds of her philosophical belief with regard to coronavirus and the danger to public health. This was at the time of the start of the second wave of Covid 19 and the huge increase of cases of the virus throughout the country.

Decision 1. The complaint was rejected. 2. For a belief to come within section 10 of the Equality Act 2010 the following must be satisfied: * The belief must be genuinely held * It must be a belief and not an opinion or viewpoint * 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 * It must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, be not incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others. 3. X’s fear did not amount to a belief. It was a fear of physical harm. Note: see also sections 44 and 100 of the Employment Rights Act 1996.

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