Workplace rights: unfair dismissal

This year, some of the Coalition's employment law reform plans will come to fruition, including an increase in the period of time people have to work in a job before being protected from unfair dismissal.

by Michael Burd and James Davies
Last Updated: 11 Oct 2016

Currently one year, this could be raised to two years or possibly even three. Reduction of the qualifying period from two years to one was one of New Labour's early workplace reforms in 1999. A concrete proposal to reverse that would be politically symbolic, but would it necessarily be good news for business? There is no qualifying period for claims of unlawful discrimination (sex, race, age etc) and certain categories of 'automatically' unfair dismissal, such as whistleblowing and trade union and safety-related sackings. Employees with less than two years' service might resort to such avenues, which tend to be more complex and costly to defend than a standard unfair dismissal claim. A significantly longer qualifying period might also itself spawn legal challenges, on the basis that it discriminates against women - prompting unwelcome uncertainty for employers. Perhaps a case of more is less?

Michael Burd and James Davies are solicitors at Lewis Silkin LLP. Contact employment@lewissilkin.com.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Reopening: Your duty is not to the economy, it’s to your staff

Managers are on shaky ground if they think they can decide for people what constitutes...

How COVID changes the world forever: A thought experiment

Silicon Valley ‘oracle’ Tim O’Reilly imagines how different sectors could emerge from the pandemic.

The CEO's guide to switching off

Too much hard work is counterproductive. Here four leaders share how they ease the pressure....

What Lego robots can teach us about motivating teams

People crave meaningful work, yet managers can so easily make it all seem futile.

What went wrong at Debenhams?

There are lessons in the high street store's sorry story.

How to find the right mentor or executive coach

One minute briefing: McDonald’s UK CEO Paul Pomroy.