The Government has published draft legislation, which, when enacted, will increase the qualifying period for claiming unfair dismissal from one to two years. The increase will apply to employees who start work with their employer on or after 6 April 2012.
Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, an employee must have been continuously employed for at least one year to be able to claim unfair dismissal (except in specified circumstances). The draft legislation increases this qualifying period to two years for employees whose employment begins on or after 6 April 2012.
The Government confirmed last month that the change will not be retrospective. Therefore, the current one-year qualifying period will continue to apply to employees who started employment with their employer prior to 6 April 2012.
The draft Regulations also increase the qualifying period that applies to the right to receive a written statement of reasons for dismissal. The current one-year qualifying period will increase to two years for those employees who began working for their employer on or after 6 April 2012.
Once the draft legislation has received parliamentary approval, the Government estimates that the increase in the unfair dismissal qualifying period will save businesses £6m per year, with a reduction of 2,000 unfair dismissal claims per year.