Unfair dismissal change will not be retrospective

Employees starting work before 6 April 2012 will continue to be able to claim unfair dismissal after one year’s service, the Government confirmed yesterday. The new two-year qualifying period will only apply to employees who commence employment on or after 6 April 2012.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has explained that the aim of the policy is to encourage recruitment and it does not believe that it is “appropriate or necessary to apply it those already in work”, it confirmed to XpertHR.

The doubling of the qualifying period was introduced as part of the Government’s employment law review last year. Announcing the change in October, business secretary Vince Cable said: “Businesses tell us that unfair dismissal rules are a major barrier to taking on more people.”

However, John Philpott, chief economic adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, suggested that there is “questionable merit” to the changes. “There is no evidence that UK employment suffered significantly in the 1970s as a result of the introduction in 1975 of a six-month qualifying period for rights against unfair dismissal, or that there was any substantial benefit when the qualifying period was subsequently raised to two years in the 1980s before being lowered to one year in 1999,” he commented.

Unions have criticised the change, saying that it favours unscrupulous bosses, while some legal commentators have suggested that it will further encourage employees to bring discrimination claims, which do not require a qualifying period.

The Regulations to extend the unfair dismissal qualifying period from April 2012 are subject to parliamentary debate, but are expected to be published soon.

From XpertHR

Qualifying period for unfair dismissal protection is increased XpertHR reports on the increase in the unfair dismissal qualifying period.

Government announces “the most radical reform to the employment law system for decades” Further coverage of the Government’s employment law reform, including unfair dismissal.

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