Government reveals plans to reduce qualifying period for unfair dismissal for sacked army reservists

by Redmans on July 4, 2013

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The Ministry of Defence today revealed plans to extend the current law on automatic unfair dismissals to cover sacked army reservists.

The Government is currently undertaking a massive reorganisation of the United Kingdom’s armed forces, with a a proposal to reduce the current staffing levels of the army from 102,000 to 82,000. To compensate for this large reduction in permanent staff, the Ministry of Defence intends to launch a vigorous campaign to encourage higher numbers in the Territorial Army and has yesterday revealed proposals for “better benefits, more security, and more support for reservists and their employers” in order to support this drive.

In the proposals floated by the Ministry of Defence in its consultation outcome “Reserves in the Future Force 2020: valuable and valued”, the Government announces its intention  is to introduce new legislation to provide army reservists with a right of access – without a qualifying period – to the Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal if the dismissal relates to their reserve service. Currently, an individual who was employed on or after 6 April 2012 cannot generally raise a claim of unfair dismissal at an Employment Tribunal unless they have completed two years continuous employment with their employer. The Ministry of Justice has therefore announced that it intends to give additional protection to army reservists by allowing them to make a claim to the Employment Tribunal – regardless of their period of continuous service – if their dismissal is because of the fact that they are an army reservist.

Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at Redmans, commented on the proposals that “The Government  has at last addressed the problematic issue of a lack of employment protection for army reservists and intends to legislate to protect these persons from dismissal because of the fact that they are army reservists. This is a welcome proposed amendment to the law and sits well alongside the Government’s proposals to increase the number of army reservists”.

The latest announcement from the Government comes in the wake of a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights’ in Redfearn v United Kingdom [2013] in which the ECHR ruled that it was unlawful to impose a qualifying period for claims where the reason for dismissal was the Claimant’s political beliefs. S.13 of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act therefore amended s.108 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 to stipulate that Claimants dismissed for their political beliefs do not need to achieve the current two years continuous employment before making a claim of unfair dismissal to the Employment Tribunal.

Redmans offer employment law advice to employees and employers and are based in London.

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