New employment law protections

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From Howes Percival:

At present, there is no specific protection in UK employment law for employees who are dismissed because of, or for a reason relating to, their political opinions or affiliations (i.e. membership of a political party), states Harris & Co chartered accountants.   An employee dismissed for such a reason would have to bring an ordinary unfair dismissal claim which requires them to have been employed for a set "qualifying period" of employment (currently two years for employees who began work on or after 6 April 2012).

Employers therefore need to be aware that, if the Government"s amendment becomes law, then any employee who believes they have been dismissed because of, or for a reason relating to, their political opinion or affiliation, will be able to bring an unfair dismissal claim irrespective of their length of service.  Accordingly, when dismissing an employee who does not have the requisite "qualifying period" to claim unfair dismissal, this is another factor that employers must consider when assessing the risk of a claim.  However, such dismissal will not be "automatically" unfair, which means that employers will be able to defend their decision to dismiss and employment tribunals can find the dismissal "fair".

Employers must also be aware that the protection will cover a wide range of political views as well as the smaller political parties (including some with more "extreme" views).  The protection is not limited to employees who hold "mainstream" political views or only those who are members of the three major political parties in the UK.

It is expected that, if the amendment is passed by Parliament, it will become law in the summer

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