Changes to qualifying period for Employment Claims

05 April 2012

The Government announced in October last year that the qualifying period for bringing a claim for unfair dismissal will increase from one year to two years from 6 April 2012. The majority of employers have seen this as a positive move as the prospect of an unfair dismissal claim makes employers more reluctant to employ new staff. The Business Secretary, Vince Cable said “Businesses tell us that unfair dismissal rules are a major barrier to taking on more people. So today we have announced that only after working for the same employer for two years can an employee bring an unfair dismissal claim.”

However, there are a number of issues in respect of which employers need to be aware. These include:

  • The increased period only affects employees who commence employment after 6 April 2012. The one year qualifying period still applies to all those hired prior to 6 April 2012.
  • The increased period does not affect the current rules surrounding “automatically unfair” dismissals for which there is no qualifying period.
  • An employee’s inability to bring an unfair dismissal claim may lead to more claims being brought under the heading of ‘discrimination’ for which there is no maximum limit to the damages that can be awarded.

In the light of the above points, Ann-Maree Blake, a partner in Quastel Midgen’s Corporate/Commercial Team, advises that employers should treat this change with an element of caution.  For further information on this or any other employment matters, please contact Ann-Maree Blake.