Change in Unfair Dismissal rules
From 6 April 2012, employees will have to work for two years before they qualify for protection against unfair dismissal. Up until now, just one year’s service was needed to claim unfair dismissal at the employment tribunal. The change in the rules only applies to new employees, so anyone who started work on 5 April or before will still need one year’s service to qualify.
The new rules may make it easier in some circumstances to dismiss a new recruit who isn’t meeting requirements, but employers should still tread carefully. Employment law identifies numerous situations in which dismissal will be “automatically unfair” and there is no service requirement at all for this protection. And whilst the change in the law may reduce the number of standard unfair dismissal claims, it may have the effect of increasing the numbers of discrimination and whistle-blowing claims pursued by employees who are dismissed and do not have sufficient service to claim unfair dismissal. Employers should check that they have objective reasons for any decision to dismiss and the written records to demonstrate this. And if in any doubt, a quick call for employment law advice could save a lot of trouble later down the line.