Managing competing political opinions in the workplace

Excello Employment Partner Hina Belitz has written a timely and thought-provoking article for People Management where she considers whether employers can legitimately discipline or dismiss employees for expressing political opinions.

In light of recent events concerning Israel and Palestine, there’s confusion regarding whether employers can discipline employees for expressing political beliefs. Cases of disciplinary action against employees supporting Palestine are rising, revealing a misunderstanding of legal boundaries.

The law primarily protects against discrimination and unfair dismissal for expressing political beliefs. Dismissal solely based on political opinions is likely unfair under the Employment Rights Act 1996, without requiring a minimum service length. Social media often plays a role, with factors like privacy settings and civility influencing fairness determinations.

Political beliefs may also fall under discrimination law, requiring careful consideration of beliefs’ nature and societal respect. Recent legal cases affirm protection for beliefs like anti-Zionism.

Employers should establish clear policies on political expression at work and respect for differing views. While employees have freedom of expression outside work, policies can limit representation of the business. Fair procedures should guide disciplinary actions related to political statements.

For further details, please refer to the full article by Hina Belitz, employment partner at Excello Law.