You may have seen many references to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill on this Employment Law Blog. We are tracking this Bill closely as it is due to make a number of changes to employment law, ranging from introducing early conciliation to making pre-termination negotiations inadmissible as evidence in unfair dismissal claims.
The Bill is currently progressing through Parliament and the Government has proposed some key amendments. These include the following:
• Removing the unfair dismissal qualifying period where 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 follows the case of Redfearn v UK, where a bus driver was dismissed following his election as a BNP councillor. He was unable to bring an unfair dismissal claim as he did not have the requisite qualifying service. The European Court of Human Rights confirmed that UK law was in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights due to its failure to extend specific protection to employees dismissed on grounds of political opinion or affiliation. Rather than appeal the decision, the Government has decided to table this amendment to the Bill.
• Providing that Employment Tribunals should have regard to an employer's ability to pay when deciding whether to order the employer to pay a financial penalty, as provided for under the Bill.
• Removing the requirement that protected disclosures in whistleblowing cases are made "in good faith". Employment Tribunals will, however, have a power to reduce any award made to the worker by up to 25% if the protected disclosure was not made in good faith.
The Bill is due to be debated at Report Stage in the House of Lords on 26 February 2013. We will continue to track the progress of the Bill and provide updates on the key developments on the Employment Law Blog.