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02 July 2013

Legal protection to be granted to political extremists

The UK's new Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act will grant legal protection to employees holding extreme political views, according to commercial law firm EMW.

By James Barnes

New employment law could lead to conflict

The new law asserts that holding extremist political views will no longer be eligible grounds for dismissal from a company-  provided that those beliefs are only expressed outside of office hours.

Landmark ruling

In a press release EMW said that employers will be almost powerless to tackle conflicts that may arise when colleagues have differences over their beliefs, using the example of Sharia law being imposed on the UK.
The new measures came into force this month after being included in the act following a landmark ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The ECHR asserted that the current UK employment law was ‘incompatible’ with European human rights law.
The ruling came last year in the case of bus driver Arthur Redfearn who, after previously being described as a valued employee, even receiving an award from employer Serco – was made redundant on ‘health and safety’ grounds when he was elected as a BNP councillor in Bradford.
Serco won at the original Employment Tribunal, but after a long legal battle, the ECHR finally ruled in the employee’s favour.

Extremist views

EMW partner Jon Taylor commented: ‘This case is an historic one as it has led to the protection of an employee’s political views being explicitly enshrined in UK law, making it just as difficult to dismiss someone for extremist political beliefs as it would be to discriminate against them on the grounds of religion, race and gender.
‘Whilst political freedom is clearly important, other employees could be made to feel very uncomfortable if they are forced to work alongside individuals they know to hold extremist views. If that person were to have a public profile, as in Redfearn’s case, it could also be viewed negatively by customers.’

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