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Employment Law Update: Amendments to Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill Tabled

The government has tabled a number of important amendments to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill 2012-13 (ERRB), which is due to be debated at Report Stage in the House of Lords on 26 February 2013. Key amendments are:

Removal of the unfair dismissal qualifying period where the reason (or principal reason) for dismissal "is, or relates to, the employee's political opinions or affiliation", following Redfearn v United Kingdom [2012] ECHR 1878 (see Legal update, UK must protect employees from dismissal on grounds of political opinion or affiliation (ECtHR)). This will not create a new form of "automatically unfair" dismissal. Unfairness would still be judged in the usual way.

Removal of the good faith requirement for a protected disclosure in whistleblowing cases. This may be intended to counterbalance the introduction of a new "public interest" test. However, tribunals will have a new power to reduce compensation by up to 25% if the disclosure was not made in good faith.

A duty on tribunals assessing the new financial penalties to take account of the employer's ability to pay. 

Other amendment have been tabled by the Opposition. More may be expected before the debate takes place on the 26th February.

Sources: ERRB amendment paper, 13 February 2013 and Written Ministerial Statement, Dismissal for Political Opinions, 14 February 2013.

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