Government to remove qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims over political opinions
The Government is amending 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 Redfearn v United Kingdom  IRLR 51 ECHR, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said that it was a breach of a BNP member's human rights for him not to have the opportunity to claim unfair dismissal on the basis that he was 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.
Employment relations minister Jo Swinson confirmed in a ministerial statement that the Government will not be appealing the ECHR decision and will amend the Employment Rights Act 1996 to comply with the ECHR ruling. This amendment will exempt claimants who allege that their dismissal was because of political opinion or affiliation from the normal two-year qualifying period for bringing an unfair dismissal claim.
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.
- Written ministerial statement: dismissals for political opinions (PDF format, 60.5K) Read Jo Swinson's written ministerial statement on dismissals for political opinions in full.
- Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill The text of the amendment is available on the UK Parliament website.
Policy on political activity in the workplace Use this model policy to establish a clear code of conduct regarding employees' political activity in the workplace.
Redfearn v United Kingdom  IRLR 51 ECHR Read more about the ECHR decision that it was a breach of a BNP member's human rights for him not to have the opportunity to claim unfair dismissal on the basis that he was sacked for his "political opinion".
McConkey and another v Simon Community Northern Ireland  IRLR 757 HL The House of Lords held that an employer in Northern Ireland could refuse to recruit job applicants on the grounds that they had supported the use of violence for political ends during the Troubles, even though they had since renounced these views.