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Legal U-turn over unfair dismissals

Legal U-turn over unfair dismissals

People sacked because of their political opinions will be able to take their employers to court over unfair dismissal regardless of how long they have worked for them, under new legal changes.

As its stands workers can only claim to have been unfairly dismissed if they have been working in their role for more than two years, but a recent European court ruling has prompted the Government to alter its legislation.

Judges in the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the sacking of BNP member Arthur Redfearn from his position because of his political opinions was a breach of human rights. Mr Redfearn, a bus driver in Bradford, drove mainly Asian adults and children with disabilities. He fought a legal battle after he was told he could not bring a case of unfair dismissal against his former employer Serco in 2004 as he had not worked for them for more than a year.

The required period of employment before a claim was possible was doubled only last year. In a written statement, Business Minister Viscount Younger of Leckie wrote that the UK had breached human rights by stopping people “who do not have a qualifying period of service” from claiming unfair dismissal over their political views and the Government would not be appealing against the ruling. Viscount Younger confirmed that the legal position in the UK would be brought into line with the European ruling with changes to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which is being debated in the House of Lords and will come into effect two months after Royal Assent to the bill is granted.

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