Doubling of the qualifying period for protection from unfair dismissal due to come into effect this week

Simon Tytherleigh , 04 Apr 2012


The UK government’s changes to the qualifying period for protection from unfair dismissal from one year to two years is due to come into effect from Good Friday onwards.

Since May 2010, The Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) has been leading a review of employment laws, so fulfilling one of the government's stated aims of the Coalition Agreement.

Many aspects were clearly on the government's radar from the outset, including work and families, retirement age and equality. Another key target was the employment tribunal system, as a result of which the government has consulted on employment tribunal reform.

One aspect of that reform is that, for those recruited on/after 6 April, the qualifying period for unfair dismissal increases to two years. Those who are already in employment before that date will retain the current one-year qualifying period. The same qualifying period will apply to the right to ask for written reasons.

Currently employees only need one year's service to bring an unfair dismissal claim, and this doubling of the qualifying period brings it in to line with the service requirement for a claim for redundancy pay. It is worth noting, however, that this change will not have any immediate impact, as it applies only to those recruited on or after 6 April.

Consequently, the first impact will be felt from 5 April 2013 when such employees would have qualified to bring their claims under the old regime.

The increase in the period of service required for employees to be able to bring a claim has received strong support from many employers, as it is tangible evidence of the Government's stated aim of reducing employment red tape.

An employers' poll conducted by international law firm Eversheds revealed that employers were doubtful as to whether an increase of the qualifying period would meet the stated aim of giving businesses more confidence to recruit. But the proposal did find favour for other reasons, for example, in our survey of more than 600 employers 78% believed that raising the qualifying period would result in a drop in tribunal claims. Even so, concerns remain that increasing the period may encourage new litigation. For example, employees may seek to circumvent the period by submitting tribunal complaints on other grounds, for example, whistle-blowing and discrimination, for which the qualifying period does not apply.

Simon Tytherleigh (pictured), partner at international law firm Eversheds


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Can't wait to leave this country

rob 04 Apr 2012

If the UK is trying to compete with China and India for low salaried, low skilled jobs it will fail. The idea that we have to degrade our living standards to that level to compete in a global economy and attract business is disgraceful and wholly unacceptable in our democracy. We need to be looking at encouraging skills and competition through quality diversied production insulating us from these emerging markets. I am not advocating protectionism (although it always exists irrespective of the so called free market) but basic standards of living and human rights must be maintained in society. The idea that i can 'unfairly' dismiss someone with no reason within 2 years of their employment is disgusting and simply encourages poor management!! it is not just this, it is the constant degradation of employee standards and rights that continues to encourage the huge gap between the rich and the poor and the creation of a hugely divided society. The inequality gap in the UK is amongst the highest in Europe (as is the gender pay gap). Much of continental europe thrive through reducing these gaps and therefore stimulting spending through a better distribution of wealth and this occurs through protection of employment legislation, resulting in employers competing either in their domestic market or in markets insulated from low labour costs of China and India. Some of the most regulated labour markets in Europe have, by far, the highest living standards (Northern Europe, Germany etc). To conclude, i can't wait to leave this country - we treat our employees, and thus our comsumers and our population as an unwelcome commodity. We have had our day - if we continue to try to replicate Thatcher we will end up with living standards equal to those of India, and you know what, the multi-nationals will leave anyway when they find the next country they can move to and pay £1 an hour for labour. We need to wake up and ask who is running this so called democracy? The people? The government (so called representatives of the people)? Or global capital?

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