The Coalition Government has today announced that the length of time you need to be employed to bring an unfair dismissal claim will be raised from one to two years with effect from April 2012. This change has been introduced following the Coalition Government’s ‘Resolving Workplace Disputes’ consultation which was commenced in response to concerns raised by employers about an apparent increase in unjustified tribunal claims.
The Coalition Government have also announced the introduction of a fee to bring an employment tribunal claim, with details to be published and planned exemptions for those on income support.
An increase from one to two years in the period for which an employee needs to be employed before having the right to bring a claim for unfair dismissal will, on the face of it, be welcome news for employers. This change will make it easier to dismiss employees without going through a fair dismissal process (and without a fair reason for dismissal, such as performance or conduct).
However, employers still need to proceed with caution as employees can bring discrimination claims or a whistleblowing claim in respect of their dismissal without any minimum service requirement. As compensation for these claims is uncapped (although loss based), the remaining risk and exposure is potentially very large and cannot be ignored.
In practice it is unlikely that the changes to the unfair dismissal rules will result in a reduction in tribunal claims. What we are in fact likely to see is an increase in discrimination and whistleblowing claims as employees seek to find a way to assert their rights and it is exactly these types of claims which are financially a much more risky proposition for employers.
03 October, 2011
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