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Unfair Dismissal Reform: Political Ping-Pong with Equality?

(2012) Equal Opportunities Review, Issue 226

17 Pages Posted: 3 Mar 2012 Last revised: 29 Nov 2014

Ewan McGaughey

King's College London - School of Law

Date Written: March 2, 2012


The government proposal to re-raise the fair dismissal qualification period by Ministerial Order to two years is vulnerable to judicial review, because it will have a discriminatory impact on people protected by the Equality Act 2010 and the EU Equality Directives. The House of Lords addressed the same issue in R (Seymour-Smith) v Secretary of State for Employment after the last time the qualifying period was raised. A better alternative to halt growth in unemployment is probably not allow employers to make it easier to make workers unemployed, but to pay regard to the workforce’s views when determining the fairness of dismissals. In any event, it appears relatively clear that the courts would not let UK governments continue to play political ping pong where equal rights are at stake.

Keywords: unfair dismissal, equality, discrimination, job security, workplace democracy, unemployment, Seymour-Smith, Edwards, Chesterfield

Suggested Citation

McGaughey, Ewan, Unfair Dismissal Reform: Political Ping-Pong with Equality? (March 2, 2012). (2012) Equal Opportunities Review, Issue 226. Available at SSRN: or

Ewan McGaughey (Contact Author)

King's College London - School of Law ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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