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Falselances and philosophical belief

TWO RECENT rulings are likely to have a positive influence on rights at work for freelances, especially "regular casuals".

At the Court of Appeal, a recent judgment on car valeters who worked for Autoclenze seems to confer more of the rights enjoyed by an employer on some freelances who do regular shifts. The court ruled that Autoclenze had tried to take away their workers' rights by including "sham" clauses in contracts, designed to suggest they were self-employed contractors and not employees.

Can a freelance working regular shifts eventually gain some of the rights enjoyed by employees? That depends: see here for more on this.

A recent Employment Tribunal decision, in the case of Grainger Plc vs Mr T Nicholson, ruled that "A belief in man-made climate change, and the alleged resulting moral imperatives" were a "philosophical belief" with the same status in law as religious beliefs. The judgment gives workers some rights to refuse to do their bosses' bidding when it conflicts with their "philosophical beliefs." Mr Nicholson, who lost his job as a sustainability manager, said that in one incident the boss "showed contempt for the need to cut carbon emissions by flying out a member of the IT staff to Ireland to deliver his BlackBerry that he had left behind in London."

This might have implications for journalists or sub-editors ordered by bosses to produce articles of a climate change-denying flavour. (Both the Express and the Spectator produced climate change-sceptical front covers in the run up to the Copenhagen climate summit.) We look forward to the first industrial tribunal cases to be brought by an Epicurean, Stoic or Solipsist. Solipsist (or Jedi or nihilist) journalists fighting unfair dismissal are warned that Mr Nicholson had to provide strong "evidence directed to the genuineness of his belief".

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