6 April 2012 employment law changes: increase in unfair dismissal qualifying period

One of the most significant changes to employment law coming into force on 6 April 2012 is the increase to the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims. Employees whose employment begins on or after 6 April 2012 will usually need to complete two years’ service with the employer before they can claim unfair dismissal. We outline what employers need to know about the change and how the qualifying period works in practice.

1. Will current employees be affected by the increase?

The increase applies only to employees whose employment begins on or after 6 April 2012. If an employee starts work for an employer on or after 6 April, he or she will not be able to claim unfair dismissal if he or she is dismissed within the first two years of the employment.

Does the April 2012 increase in the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims from one to two years apply retrospectively?

How is the qualifying period for unfair dismissal calculated?

What types of break between contracts would not constitute a break in continuous employment?

2. In what circumstances can employees claim unfair dismissal if they don’t have the qualifying service?

XpertHR Podcast

Listen to Jeya Thiruchelvam, Clio Springer and Sarah Anderson, employment law editors at XpertHR, explain when a minimum period of qualifying service is not required to claim unfair dismissal.

It is not always necessary for an employee to have accrued the required qualifying service to claim unfair dismissal. Some dismissals will be automatically unfair, regardless of how long the employee has been with the employer.

The qualifying period required for an employee to ask for a written statement of the reasons for his or her dismissal is also changing on 6 April 2012.

In what circumstances does an employee not need minimum qualifying service to claim unfair dismissal?

Does an employee need a minimum period of service to bring a claim of unfair dismissal when dismissed by reason of a TUPE transfer?

Does an employer have to give a written statement of reasons for dismissal?

Quick reference: Automatically unfair reasons for dismissal

3. Who has the right to claim unfair dismissal?

There are other qualifying requirements for the right to claim unfair dismissal, in addition to the requirement to have worked for the employer for the relevant period, including that the individual must be an employee (as opposed to a worker or self-employed). Some classes of employee are excluded from the right to claim unfair dismissal.

What are the qualifying conditions required for an employee to bring a claim of unfair dismissal?

Are there any employees who are not covered by unfair dismissal legislation?

4. What other employment rights do employees need qualifying service for?

While many employment rights apply from day one of employment, there are a number that an employee will be entitled to only after completing a certain period of continuous service.

Which statutory rights require a period of qualifying service?

How is the 12-week qualifying period under the Agency Workers Regulations 2010 calculated?

Quick reference: Qualifying periods for statutory rights