Unfair dismissal qualification period to increase

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05 October 2011

The Chancellor, George Osborne, has announced that the qualifying period for the right to bring an unfair dismissal claim will be increased from one year to two years with effect from 6 April 2012.

This change stems from the proposals in the Government’s consultation “Resolving Workplace Disputes” that began on 27 January 2011. The aim of raising the qualification period is to act as a driver for growth and job creation as well as to reduce the workload of the employment tribunals.

Last year tribunal claims reached more than 230,000 and the average award for successful claims was £8,900. Some 40% of claimants withdrew their claims and a further 40% of claims settled out of court; meaning only 20% of claims made it to a full hearing.

Other measures announced at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester include a proposal to introduce fees for bringing an employment tribunal claim from April 2013 and the Government is planning to consult on this proposal later this year. The rationale behind the introduction of fees is to discourage spurious and vexatious claims.

The proposals will be welcome news to businesses although the Government has indicated that it only expects employment tribunal claims to be reduced by 2,000 a year and it remains to be seen exactly how the proposals will be implemented.

If you would like more information, or specific advice, on the impact of this announcement, please contact Roger Bull on 0117 939 2000 or email roger.bull@burges-salmon.com, or contact the lawyer at Burges Salmon with whom you usually deal.

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