Qualification period for unfair dismissal to increase to two years and introduction of Tribunal fees
4th October 2011
In January 2011, the Government announced its intention to carry out a complete review of employment law beginning with its consultation paper, Resolving Workplace Disputes. One of the headline proposals in that consultation paper was to increase the qualifying period for unfair dismissal from one year to two years. In a surprising early show of its hand, the Government has yesterday confirmed that April 2012 will see the introduction of that proposal.
The rationale behind the move is to reduce the risk of unfair dismissal claims by employees and to encourage employers to more freely recruit without fear of reprisal. Most businesses have welcomed the move, particularly in light of this month's introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations which have been criticised for reducing flexibility in recruitment and increasing the scope of potential claims.
But could the move have unintended consequences for employers? Will an aggrieved employee look to instead pursue other claims on the basis of rights obtained from day one, for example, a discrimination claim? Such claims are often more complicated to defend and the damages for a successful claim are unlimited. In any event, many employers feel that one year is adequate enough time to make an assessment as to whether an employee should remain in employment and that the change is unnecessary.
The Government has also confirmed yesterday that it intends to impose fees for claimants submitting Tribunal claims from April 2013. The details remain unclear and will be subject to consultation from November. The rationale behind this proposal is to deter individuals from bringing spurious Tribunal claims. However, as with many Government proposals, the 'devil will be in the detail'.
These are clearly important employment law developments, so we will continue to issue updates as further details become known. If, in the meantime, you have any questions about this or any other employment law matter, please do not hesitate to contact the employment law team at IBB Solicitors.