Implementing the Redfearn judgment – protection of political opinions and affiliations

by Laurie Anstis on February 14, 2013

Last year, in the case of Redfearn v UK, the European Court of Human Rights declared that UK law was incompatible with the article 11 right to freedom of association, in that it did not give protection against dismissal on grounds of political opinion or affiliation to those who had less than one year’s service.

The government has today moved amendments to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill which disapply the usual qualifying period for unfair dismissal “if the reason (or, if more than one, the principal reason) for the dismissal is, or relates to, the employee’s political opinions or affiliation.”

This seems to be a literal implementation of the European Court of Human Rights’s decision. It will not be automatically unfair to dismiss on the basis of a political opinion or affiliation, nor is there any protection against detriments. It simply means that there is no qualifying period for bringing what will otherwise be treated as an ordinary unfair dismissal claim.

There appears, at least in this amendment, to be no definition of “political opinion or affiliation”.

The amendments introduced today also include some complex amendments to the requirement for a protected disclosure to be made “in good faith”.

The ministerial statement on the change can be found here.

I first heard of this from the legendary Michael Rubenstein, who is now on Twitter.