Government plans to restrict the qualification period for any employment tribunal claim for unfair dismissal compensation to those who been in their current employment for two years [replacing the current 12 month qualifying period ] will, if it is enacted, effectively return the law to the state it was in before 1999. Apparently the main thrust of thinking behind this particular government policy is to assist the faltering economy and to make it easier for businesses to take on new staff – it’s estimated that the number of unfair dismissal claims annually could fall by up to 2000 as a direct result – saving British business an estimated £6m pa.
But on the basis that the government proceed with their plans, are they likely to be challenged? The rules were changed in 2000, largely as the result of a legal challenge – made on the basis that a qualification period of two years unfairly affected women and as result was a form of indirect sex discrimination. So, if the new proposals, do indeed come into force, expect similar types of legal challenges – and probably other ones too – on the basis of the significantly increased levels of employment law protection introduced since the turn of the millennium.