Jackie Le Poidevin, Editor-in-Chief, HR Adviser


Learn the Lessons from EAT’s Ruling that Christian Actress Did Not Suffer Religious Discrimination

One of the trickiest situations for an employer to deal with is when an employee expresses a protected belief that conflicts with the rights of other people who also have Equality Act protection. In a new decision, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has ruled that a Christian actress whose contract was terminated after she said homosexuality is wrong was not discriminated against. It also upheld the employment tribunal’s decision ordering her to pay £300,000 legal costs. We look at what happened and some lessons to take away.

What Happened?

In Omooba v Michael Garrett Associations Ltd [2024] EAT 30, Ms Omooba auditioned for a role in The Color Purple but was instead given the lead role of Celie, who is a lesbian. A social media storm developed after an old Facebook post emerged in which she wrote, ‘I do not believe homosexuality is right’. The theatre and her agency both terminated her contract with them and she claimed religion and belief discrimination and harassment and breach of contract.

 Shortly before the tribunal hearing, she finally read the script and admitted she wouldn’t have wanted to play the role and would have resigned if she hadn’t already been dismissed. Despite this, she went ahead with the claim

Understand the Decision

The original tribunal dismissed Ms Omooba’s claims and the EAT has now upheld that decision. It agreed that the theatre terminated her contract not because of her religious views but because of concerns about adverse publicity. The theatre was worried about the audience’s reaction, the cohesion of the cast, the producers’ reputation and the production’s commercial success.

There were further fears about boycotts, interruptions or having to give refunds. The agency also terminated her contract for commercial reasons and because she had breached the contract by not familiarising herself with the role before accepting it.

Key Lessons

This is a welcome decision for employers. However, it’s an unusual case and doesn’t mean you can safely dismiss an employee for expressing controversial beliefs on social media in every situation. You should only consider dismissal if:

  • The comments could genuinely bring your business into disrepute, could deter the public from dealing with you or espoused violence or hatred.
  • You’ve tried to find a less drastic alternative to dismissal. Here, Ms Omooba was asked her to retract the comments and publicly apologise but she refused to do so. If you don’t give the employee a second chance, it may be discriminatory to dismiss them.

It’s worth noting that Ms Omooba is hoping to take her case to the Court of Appeal. Also, Higgs v Farmor’s School [2023] EAT 89, which has similar facts, will be heard by the Court of Appeal later this year. That case concerns a Christian school administrator who was dismissed after sharing a post on her private Facebook page expressing concerns about lessons on LGBT+ relationships and gender fluidity.

Until we have further clarification, it will be sensible to try and defuse any disputes of this type if you can. If an employee’s comments have offended colleagues, mediation might be an option. Or you might ask the employee not to initiate discussions about their beliefs at work or to add a disclaimer to their social media profile saying their opinions are their own.

Your next HR Adviser Special Issue in June will be on religion or belief discrimination and will contain more tips on how to deal with these kinds of polarised views in the workplace.



Emma Lampka, Editorial Board Member, Health & Safety Adviser and Risk Assessment & Compliance


5 Key Areas to Comply with the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 cover a wide range of basic health, safety and welfare issues and apply to most workplaces (with the exception of those workplaces involving construction work on construction sites, those in or on a ship or those below ground at a mine). People in control of non-domestic premises also have a duty towards people who are not their employees but use their premises.  

The regulations expand are intended to protect the health and safety of everyone in the workplace and ensure that adequate welfare facilities are provided for people at work – and all businesses must comply. To support you, there’s also an Approved Code of Practice and guidance (L24) to help you meet the regulations.

Here are 5 key areas you can focus on to ensure you are meeting these regulations:

1. Inspect Your Workplace

Undertake a regular workplace inspection to identify any hazards or practices that may put employees, contractors and visitors at risk. For example, check the lighting in the area to see if it’s adequate for the task being undertaken. Review the ventilation and temperature in the working environment – is there enough air movement and is the temperature reasonable for the task undertaken?

2. Maintain the Workplace, Equipment, Devices and Systems

From your workplace inspection you can identify and implement control measures to ensure that:

  • The general workplace is maintained.
  • Equipment and devices used are suitable for the work, there’s a regular maintenance programme and equipment is in a suitable condition.
  • Facilities are accessible for anyone with a disability.

3. Reduce Falls from Height Risk

This can include from, or through, windows or transparent or translucent doors, gates or walls and any skylights or ventilators in the roof. If staff or contractors are working on the roof, ensure there is fall protection around skylights, edges and ventilators.

4. Keep the Workplace Clean and Free from Excessive Waste Material

This should include the regular removal of waste materials, the provision of the correct number of toilet for the number of employees and suitable washing facilities are available. To prevent contamination, provide facilities for changing clothes and clean areas for rest and eating meals. Pregnant women and nursing mothers may also need a private clean space.

5. Provide Potable Drinking Water

Ensure that a consistent supply of potable drinking water in appropriate locations is made available for everyone across your business. If you’re a food manufacturing business, you may need to consider types of water provision such as environmentally-friendly disposable cups and the locations of water facilities to prevent cross contamination.


    Sarah Bradford, Editor-in-Chief, Pay & Benefits Adviser

    7 Actions You Need to Take for the Payroll Year End

    The 203/24 tax year comes to an end on 5 April 2024. For payroll departments this is a busy time of year, as there are a number of annual tasks that need to be dealt with.

    1. Final Payroll of 2023/24

    If you have directors whose National Insurance contributions are assessed using the alternative arrangements, you will need to indicate that you are paying them for the final time in the 2023/24 tax year so that their National Insurance contributions for the year, and your employer’s liability, can be recalculated on an annual basis.

    You will also need to indicate when sending your last Full Payment Submission for 2023/24 that it is the final one of the tax year. If you forget to do this, you can send an Employer Payment Summary (EPS) to let HMRC know that you have made your final submission for 2024/25. If you need to send an EPS, you must do this by 19 April 2024.

    1. Register Benefits for Payrolling

    If you want to payroll benefits for the first time in 2024/25, or stop payrolling benefits that you are currently payrolling, you will need to do this online by 5 April 2024.

    3. Pay Any Outstanding PAYE and NIC

    You must pay the PAYE and National Insurance that you owe for month 12, together with any outstanding amounts for 2023/24, by 22 April 2024 if you make your payments electronically. If you send a cheque, it must reach HMRC by 19 April 2024.

    4. Run Your Payroll Year End

    After you have made your final payments for 2023/24, you will need to run your payroll year end on your software. It is important that you do this before updating the software for the 2024/25 tax year. This will enable you to generate your P60s (certificate of pay and tax deducted), which you must give to employees who were on the payroll on 5 April 2024 by 31 May 2024. If you payrolled benefits in 2023/24, you must provide employees with details of their payrolled benefits by the same date.

    5. Update Your Payroll Software

    Once you have put 2023/24 to bed, you can update your payroll software for the 2024/25 tax year. It’s important than you do this before paying employees for the first time in the new tax year so that their deductions are calculated using the 2024/25 tax and National Insurance rates and thresholds.

    6. Check Employees’ Tax Codes

    Although the personal allowance for 2024/25 is unchanged, you may still need to update employees’ tax codes. This will be the case if you have received a tax code notification from HMRC. HMRC will normally send these electronically and you will be able to check for notification by signing into your PAYE Online account.

    An employee’s tax code might change to reflect a change in their taxable benefits or because they are paying tax that they owe through PAYE via an adjustment to their tax code.

    7. Check Your Employees’ National Insurance Category Letter

    You may also need to update an employee’s National Insurance category letter, for example, if they have reached the age of 21 or state pension age.