Qualifying Period for Unfair Dismissal

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Employment lawyer, Roger Cheves, provides an update on the proposed changes to the law

The latest news from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will still the fluttering of some hearts. BIS has finally confirmed that the increase in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims to two years will only apply to those starting a new job on or after 6 April 2012. Employees whose employment started before 6 April will therefore remain subject to the one-year qualifying period. It follows that someone with 18 months’ continuous employment on 6 April will not lose their right to claim unfair dismissal, and an employee with 11 months’ service on that date will still only have to wait one month before being able to bring a claim.

It is expected that the regulations extending the qualifying period for claiming unfair dismissal will be published shortly and will have to be approved by Parliament.

Other changes to procedure in Employment Tribunals that can be brought into effect without the requirement of an Act of Parliament – witness statements being taken as read, the removal of witness expenses, judges sitting alone in unfair dismissal cases and changes to limits for cost awards and deposit orders – are also expected to come into force on 6 April 2012. Measures requiring primary legislation will have to take their place in the queue and will be implemented when parliamentary time allows.

Roger Cheves is head of Slee Blackwell’s Employment Team in Exeter. For a free initial consultation on any aspect of employment law contact Roger on Exeter (01392) 423000 or by email at [email protected]