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Extended unfair dismissal protection to apply to new employees only

One of the most important legislative changes for 2012 will be the increase in the unfair dismissal qualifying period from one to two years from 6th April. It is being reported that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has indicated that the new two year qualifying period will only apply to new employees i.e. to employees whose employment begins on or after 6th April. Existing employees will retain the right to claim unfair dismissal after one year’s continuous service. The government’s view is that “the objective of the policy is to encourage recruitment, [so it does not] believe that it is appropriate or necessary to apply it to those already in work”.

A formal announcement has yet to be made and the proposals are still subject to Parliamentary approval. The Conservative government adopted the same approach in 1985 when increasing the qualifying period to two years.

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