You need two years’ employment and you’re going to have to pay!

According to leaked information from the Government, from April 2012 employees will need two years’ continuous employment in order to bring tribunal claims for unfair dismissal.  This was the case before the last Labour Government and is designed to encourage employers to take on new members of staff without fear of claims if they don’t wish to keep them.  It seems strange to me that this is a measure which is aimed at encouraging employment when, arguably, what it is encouraging is employers to get rid of staff for reasons which may or may not have merit.

Furthermore, I think that what this may well do is encourage more employees to pursue unmeritorious discrimination claims (where any continuity of employment is unnecessary) when they fear that their jobs are at risk and they don’t have sufficient continuity of employment to claim unfair dismissal.

But has the Government already second guessed that?  Perhaps so, as it also seems that it plans to introduce issue fees.  The indication seems to be that it will cost claimants £250 to issue Tribunal Claims and a further £1000 at the time the case is listed for hearing (and higher for claims worth more than £30,000).  These fees will be refunded if the Claimant wins.  Clearly this is designed to deter those very employees who issue unmeritorious claims in order to try and force their employers into giving them a handsome pay-off.  However, given the fact that these fees will be waived for those employees who are in receipt of benefits and given that most Claimants are out of a job when they issue proceedings, it is unclear how much of a deterrent these proposed fees will actually be.

Only time will tell whether this proposal will have the stated desired effect of increasing recruitment and reducing spurious claims.     Watch this space.

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About Belinda Lester
I am the managing director and founder of Lionshead Law a specialist employment law and HR consultancy company.

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