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No qualifying period for political opinion dismissal claims

Some employers may have missed the recent law change surrounding dismissals because of political opinions or affiliation. It was one of the many changes to employment law ushered in under the umbrella of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013.

Unfair dismissal claims related to an employee's political affiliation or opinions can now be brought without having to serve the normal qualifying period of two years' employment (or one year for those engaged before 6 April 2012). The change applies to dismissals taking effect on or after 25 June 2013.

The change is purely to the length of qualifying period. It does not mean that this kind of dismissal is automatically unfair, nor does it change the status of such a dismissal to 'discrimination'.

Employers will need to demonstrate a fair reason for dismissal and have followed a fair and objective process as normal.

The law change came about because of a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights. It found that the former qualifying period amounted to a breach of the right to freedom of association under Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, for those with short service who were dismissed because of political affiliation.

Acas can help keep you up to speed with changes to regulations in its Employment law update training courses. Acas also offers practical, impartial advice on getting it right when Dismissing employees - Acas training and support, and training on related issues to do with Discipline and grievance.

Visit the Acas Training and Business Solutions page for more information.

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