The Solicitor - The FindLaw UK Life, Family and Workplace Law Blog

Unfair dismissal: Change in law poses threat to employees

On 6 April 2012 the qualifying period for a claim for unfair dismissal doubled, from one year to two years, creating a huge increase in the risk of job loss for millions of workers, according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

The TUC believe that the new law will negatively impact on some 2.7 million people working in temporary and part-time jobs across the UK who begin employment on or after 6th April 2012. Previously, the law permitted claims for unfair dismissal after just one year.

The change has come as part of a broader review of employment legislation being conducted by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) in accordance with the stated aims of the coalition agreement.

Brendan Barber is the general secretary of the TUC.

"The Government's proposals to weaken unfair dismissal rights risk generating a 'hire and fire' culture in the UK and will lead to the creation of insecure employment which is here today and gone tomorrow," he said.

He went on to criticise the government logic that making it easier to fire employees would help the economy or boost business.

"Cutting back on protection against unfair dismissal will do nothing to boost the economy. If people are constantly in fear of losing their jobs it will lead to even less consumer spending, and losing your job is one of the worst things that can happen to anyone, especially when unemployment is so high," he added.

The move has been welcomed by employers as tangible evidence that the coalition is seeking to reduce business red-tape. However, a poll by law firm Eversheds revealed that employers were still doubtful as to whether the new law would give them more confidence to recruit new staff.

In a separate survey by HR Magazine of some 600 businesses, 78% felt that the law would reduce the number of tribunal claims they had to fight.

Related links:

Read more on the story (HR Magazine)

Unfair dismissal FAQs (FindLaw)

Find an employment solicitor near you (FindLaw)