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Unfair dismissal rights set to change

Meredith Hurst Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Employees can only bring a claim for unfair dismissal if they have the necessary period of continuous employment at the date of termination. In most cases of unfair dismissal, the necessary period of service is one year.  click here for more information

The date of termination is either the date on which notice expires (even if the employee is on garden leave) or, if the employment terminates immediately, then the date on which that termination takes effect is the date on which the statutory minimum notice that should have been given would have expired.

However, employees do not have to have one year's service to claim unfair dismissal in certain circumstances for example, reasons connected with pregnancy, childbirth, or statutory maternity leave. This is known as automatically unfair dismissal.

The qualifying period for unfair dismissal protection was reduced from two years to one year in 1999 but if news reports are to be believed, the Coalition's proposed "Employer's Charter" will increase the qualifying period to two years again.

This is good news for employers because it will make it easier to dismiss an employee without fear of being taken to an employment tribunal, at least in the first two years of employing someone. It is not so good for employees of course and will create more insecurity. The Charter also will reduce the amount of statutory sick pay that an employee can claim.

Whitehall's rationale is to encourageBritain's small businesses to employ more staff without the strictures of red tape, allowing for more flexibility and reducing the potential liability for employers in the current straitened economic climate.

The government has also announced a national insurance "holiday" for new businesses this summer but this would not affect established but struggling companies who still have to find an extra 12.8% on top of the salary they pay to employees.

We shall have to see if the Charter does come to pass and whether this does anything to alleviate the burden faced by Britain's businesses, or simply disadvantage employees.  click here to see what the papers say