The Government has announced that it will amend the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill to remove the two-year qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims where the alleged reason for dismissal is political opinion or affiliation, to take account of the European Court of Human Rights decision in Redfearn v United Kingdom.
In this case, a bus driver was dismissed after he was elected as a local councillor for the British National Party. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said that it was a breach of his human rights to not have the opportunity to claim unfair dismissal due to being sacked for his political opinion.
He did not have the required one year’s service (the qualifying period at the time, now increased to two years for employees whose employment commenced on or after 6 April 2012) to bring a claim.
The Government has confirmed it will not appeal the ruling, and will amend legislation to comply with the ECHR’s decision.
Employment Relations Minister, Jo Swinson, said:
“Having considered the judgment, the Government has decided not to appeal this decision. To bring our legislation into line with the ruling, we have tabled an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, currently before the House of Lords.
“This amendment exempts claimants who allege that their dismissal was on the grounds of political opinion or affiliation from the two-year qualifying period.”
It has been reported that the additional protection for those dismissed because of political opinion or affiliation will come into effect two months after the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill receives Royal Assent and will apply to dismissals on or after that date.