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New qualifying period for unfair dismissals

From 6 April 2012, the qualifying period for unfair dismissal clams will increase from the current one year to two years, as part of the Government's drive to streamline the employment tribunal process.

These proposals mean that employees who start work on or after 6 April 2012 will, in most cases, have to complete two years' service with their employer before they can make a claim for unfair dismissal. These changes are expected to cut the number of unfair dismissal claims by just over 3,000 claims a year.

In certain circumstances, however, dismissals will automatically be considered to be unfair, and employees will not be required to have two years' service before making a claim. These include dismissals for reasons such as pregnancy or maternity leave, trades union membership, whistleblowing, reporting health and safety risks or assertion of statutory rights. These exceptions are all set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996.

There will also be an increase from one to two years in the qualifying period required for an employee to be entitled to a written statement from their employer setting out the reasons for their dismissal. Any request will need to be made within three months of the termination of employment, which is the limit for bringing a tribunal claim.

Acas provides regular training courses for employers on changes to employment law.

Visit the Acas training and business solutions area for more information.

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