As the press is dominated by the race for the next Labour leader, I noted with interest that Jeremy Corbyn has set out his vision for the future government in equality policy. Jeremy Corbyn is seen as the favourite to take over the party in the opinion polls.
The highlights of his policy are that he intends to extend the three month limitation period for some sorts of discrimination claims, he will abolish employment tribunal fees, and he will give all workers unfair dismissal rights from day 1 instead of after two years’ service.
No doubt some of these policies will be positively received by Unions and employees alike. I found the suggestion that all workers have unfair dismissal rights from day 1 to be the most interesting of these policy changes. This is a unique position. Of course, the law changed some years ago now to make it a requirement that an employee has two years’ service, save for permitted exceptions to that rule. Prior to this, it had been one year’s service. It is an interesting concept to now have the suggestion this should be from day 1. Effectively, somebody in their probation period could be unfairly dismissed if it was not for one of the fair reasons set out in the Employment Rights Act. For example, if there were capability issues over an employee in their probationary period, an employer would still be expected to follow a capability policy to avoid the unfair dismissal claim being successful, notwithstanding that the dismissal took place in the probationary period.
Only time will tell whether these policies become reality because, in any event, Jeremy Corbyn must first be selected as Labour leader and then, indeed, Labour must win the General Election to be able to pass these changes through. Whilst it is therefore clear that these changes will not be imminent, it is worth keeping an eye on what the future may hold.