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Tinkering around the edges

5 October 2011

The Government has announced that the length of service needed for the right to bring an ordinary unfair dismissal claim will increase from one year to two, from April 2012. It claims the move will reduce the number of unfair dismissal claims brought against employers each year by 2,000. The move has been welcomed by the CBI, but are unfair dismissal claims by employees with between one and two year’s service really the problem for employers? Of more concern to employers must surely be unfounded allegations of discrimination (for which there is no service requirement), which often require long and costly employment tribunal hearings to defend.

The qualifying period of service for claiming unfair dismissal used to be two years, before it was successfully challenged in Europe in the late 1990’s as being indirectly discriminatory against women. It will be interesting to see if such a challenge is brought following this latest announcement, and whether such a challenge would stand up.

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