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Law for Business

Knowhow - guidance - precedents

11 SEP 2012

Employing ministers of religion

The Court of Appeal, in President of the Methodist Conference v Preston, looked at whether an ordained minister was an employee for the purposes of bringing an unfair constructive dismissal claim.

The claim was brought by a former minister, who had been ordained in the Methodist Church in 2003. She resigned in 2009 from her position as Superintendant Minister to the Redruth Circuit in Cornwall and claimed constructive dismissal. At first instance, the ET had held that, following the previous case of Parfitt v President of the Methodist Conference, because of the spiritual nature of the role there was no intention to create legal relations and therefore there was no contractual relationship. The Court of Appeal overturned this decision and held that the spiritual nature of the minister's role was just one factor to be taken into account by a tribunal when determining a minister's employment status - it should also consider all other relevant matters, including remuneration and working arrangements. In this case, the Court of Appeal held that, on the facts, the arrangements between the minister and the Church were clearly contractual in character, and therefore she was employed under a contract of service.

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