Unfair dismissal reforms ‘no threat’ to businesses

Proposed changes to the qualifying period for unfair dismissal will have little to no effect on employers, according to employment law specialist JMW Solicitors.

The government recently announced that the qualifying period of service to bring an unfair dismissal claim will go up from one year to two years from April 2012 — a move that it expects will reduce the number of employment tribunal claims and stimulate economic growth.

Under the current system, employers can remove staff from their roles at any time in the first 12 months of their employment, without fear of being on the receiving end of an unfair dismissal claim.

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However, Ian Tranter, head of the employment law department at Manchester-based JMW, believes, in reality, the reforms will not help employers and are simply a “government sound bite”.

Although he admits that the measure is likely to reduce claims against employers, he explains that by doubling the qualifying period, bosses will spend double the amount of time spent “acquiescing in under-performance”.

Tranter says this is because under the current system employers seem to be prepared to tolerate the under-performance of employees for the period during which it remains safe for the bosses to sack them. But this obviously means putting up with a poor job being carried out for nearly a year.

“Consequently, doubling the qualifying period is likely to encourage employers to neglect the effective management of their employees for twice as long as they do now,” he says.

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