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Employment Law: Spring Clean Out

It was out with the old and in with several of the government’s new “economy boosting” employment law rules as of 06 April 2012.
While employees across Great Britain were off enjoying the long weekend, the all important qualifying period for unfair dismissal quietly increased from one to two years. For employees already in employment this will make little difference unless and until they move jobs. However, for any employee who started work on or after Good Friday, the tribunal will be prevented from considering an unfair dismissal claim until he or she has acquired two years’ continuous service. 
In addition, judges can now sit alone in unfair dismissal cases and will only exercise their discretion to sit in a panel of three in exceptional circumstances. Also, the limits on deposit orders and costs orders have increased to deter Claimants and Respondents from pursuing/defending claims without reasonable prospects of success or indeed from pursuing vexatious claims. 
When first announced it was reported these changes were expected to cut the number of unfair dismissal claims in Scotland, England and Wales by just over 3,000 claims a year. So will this year’s spring clean result in fewer unfair dismissal claims? Will we see a corresponding emergence of green shoots in the economy? Only time will tell. The success of the reforms may influence the direction of employment law in Northern Ireland where these changes are not due to take effect and there are no current plans to introduce them. 
For further advice relating to the unfair dismissal qualifying period or any other Employment Law issue please contact Robert Holland.