Spring is here and so are more employment law changes for employers to grapple with. The qualifying period for an employee to bring a claim of unfair dismissal will increase from 1-2 years on 6th April 2012. The changes are part of the Coalition’s Red Tape Challenge, intended to trim back employment law that businesses are often burdened with. The changes mean that employees will have to have been in continued employment with a company for at least two years to be able to make an unfair dismissal claim. However the new rule will apply only to new employees starting employment on or after 6th April 2012. Therefore any employees that were employed before this date will still be able to claim for unfair dismissal with a qualifying period of one year.
The HR Dept reminds employers not to get their hopes up too high as the earliest this could have any effect is April 2014 and there could well be a hike in discrimination claims then as those claims do not require any minimum length of service. Disgruntled dismissed employees, unable to make an unfair dismissal claim could well bring a claim based on discrimination on the grounds of race, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy or maternity, marriage or civil partnership, religion or belief, pregnancy or maternity, age, disability or a whistle blowing claim. These claims are by their very nature more complex and therefore more expensive.
The HR Dept comments: “Though headline grabbing, it is unlikely this will make a difference in average awards (£9,120). Employees who want their day in court will find alternative ways to make a claim, especially since ‘tag on’ claims are becoming increasingly popular. It often is the SME business owner who has to fork out more legal expense/cost to defend against a claim whether vexatious or not”.