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Bradford bus driver prompts new change in law
The Government has been forced into a legal change following the case of a Bradford bus driver sacked on the grounds that his BNP views presented a health and safety risk because many passengers were Asian.
The amended law will allow people sacked for political beliefs to claim unfair dismissal even if they have only been with their employer for a short period of time. Workers can usually only claim to have been unfairly dismissed if they have been in a job for more than two years.
But the law will be changed after a European court ruled that the sacking of a BNP member from his job as a bus driver over his political views breached his human rights.
The decision by judges at the European Court of Human Rights followed a long legal battle by Arthur Redfearn, who was sacked in 2004 from his job in Bradford, where he had been working for West Yorkshire Transport Service for seven months, driving vulnerable adults and children to schools and day centres.
The judgment criticised the fact that Mr Redfearn, who represented Wibsey ward on Bradford Council for the far-right party for two years, could not bring a case of unfair dismissal against Serco in 2004 because UK law said he had not worked long enough.
The driver instead claimed race discrimination because no unfair dismissal claim was allowed within the first year of employment as the law then stood, a period which was doubled last year. Business minister Viscount Younger of Leckie told Parliament the court held that the UK breached the European Convention on Human Rights “by preventing individuals who do not have a qualifying period of service from making claims for unfair dismissal on grounds of political opinion”.
In a written statement he said: “Having considered the judgment, the Government has decided not to appeal this decision. To bring our legislation into line with the ruling we have tabled an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, currently before the House of Lords.
“This amendment exempts claimants who allege that their dismissal was on the grounds of political opinion or affiliation from this two-year qualifying period.”
The change will come into effect two months after the Bill receives Royal Assent.