§ 60A.—(1) The dismissal of an employee by an employer shall be regarded for the purposes of this Part as having been unfair if the reason for it (or, if more than one, the principal reason) was that the employee—
- (a) brought proceedings against the employer to enforce a right of his which is a relevant statutory right; or
- (b) alleged that the employer had infringed a right of his which is a relevant statutory right.
§ (2) It is immaterial for the purposes of subsection (I) whether the employee has the right or not and whether it has been infringed or not, but, for that subsection to apply, the claim to the right and that it has been infringed must be made in good faith.
§ (3) It shall be sufficient for subsection (I) to apply that the employee, without specifying the right, made it reasonably clear to the employer what the right claimed to have been infringed was.
§ (4) The following statutory rights are relevant for the purposes of this section, namely—
- (a) any right conferred by—
- (i) this Act, or
- (ii) the Wages Act 1986, for which the remedy for its infringement is by way of a complaint or reference to an industrial tribunal;
- (b) the right conferred by section 49 (minimum notice):
- (c) the rights conferred by the following provisions of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consoldiation) Act 1992, namely, sections 68, 86, 146, 168, 169 and 170 (deductions from pay, union activities and time off)."
§ (2) In section 59 of the 1978 Act (dismissal on ground of redundancy), in subsection (2) (inserted by section 23(2) of this Act), after the word "(e)" there shall he inserted the words "or 60A(1) (read with (2) and (3))".
§ (3) In section 64 of the 1978 Act (qualifying period for right not to be unfairly dismissed), in subsection (4) (inserted by section 23(3) of this Act), after the word "(e)" there shall be inserted the words "or 60A(1) (read with (2) and (3))".")
§ Read a Second time.
§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)
With this it will be convenient to consider Lords amendments Nos. 42, 59, 60 and 64.
§ Mr. Forsyth
Government amendment No. 30, with which are grouped the associated minor and technical amendments, is an important addition to the Bill's provisions, making a further significant enhancement to employees' individual rights.
The new clause was first introduced by the Government in Committee in another place to fulfil a commitment that I gave, I think from memory, to the hon. Members for Strathkelvin and Bearsden (Mr. Galbraith) and for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson). We had undertaken to introduce a measure giving employees, regardless of their length of service or hours of work, protection against being unfairly dismissed for seeking to 920 enforce the right to a written statement of main employment particulars. We had also said that we would consider the extent to which similar protection might be extended to employees seeking to enforce other statutory employment rights.
We concluded that the new provision should be comprehensive, applying in respect of all statutory employment protection rights. The rights in question are: all rights conferred by either the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978 or the Wages Act 1986 for which the remedy for infringement is by way of a complaint or a reference to an industrial tribunal; the right to a minimum period of notice; and all the rights which an employee may exercise against his or her employer under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.
The protection will apply where the employee's dismissal was on the ground that he or she had brought proceedings against the employer to enforce one of these rights and also where it was on the ground that he or she had alleged that the employer had infringed such a right. The protection will also apply where the employee was selected for redundancy on the same grounds.
It will be unnecessary for the employee actually to have made detailed reference to the right in question, as long as he or she made it reasonably clear to the employer what that right was. It will also be immaterial whether the employee had actually qualified for the right and whether the right had been infringed, provided that he or she had acted in good faith in seeking to assert it. I am sure that the Opposition will agree that that is watertight.
As I am sure all hon. Members will agree, dismissal of an employee for seeking in good faith to enforce his or her statutory employment protection rights is wholly unjustifiable. I am confident that few employers would ever contemplate acting in such an irresponsible manner. However, the new clause, which will make all such dismissals automatically unfair, will provide comprehensive new protection for individual employees against any misguided employer who might act in this way.
§ Mr. Sam Galbraith (Strathkelvin and Bearsden)
I welcome this generous amendment, which more than fulfils the commitments given by the Minister in Committee. We are pleased that the amendment does not merely place a duty on the employee to show that his rights were impeded. Irrespective of whether it was later shown that he did not have a right to ask for information because of a technical problem, the important issue is that the employee acted in good faith. It is good that, for once, in the Bill the benefit of the doubt is given to the employee.
The measure does not deal with whether an industrial tribunal can order reinstatement or award compensation. However, I should be ruled out of order if I started to discuss that and the Minister would think I was being churlish. In any case we discussed the matter in Committee.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Subsequent Lords amendments agreed to.