By Marcus Leach

The government’s reported return to a two-year qualifying period for bringing a claim by employees for unfair dismissal will be seen by many bosses as good news.

But it will not mean that employers are free of the risk of claims against them for unlawful discrimination or claims for automatic unfair dismissal, says Croner, a UK-based provider of workplace information, software and services.

“The qualifying period used to be two years until June 1999 when it was reduced by the previous government to a year," Amy Paxton, Senior Employment Consultant at Croner said.

"The reinstatement of a two-year period will be welcomed by many employers.

"But while it may be quite good news for business, the proposed change may not necessarily make it any easier to carry out a so-called ‘risk free’ dismissal. There are some situations where dismissals are automatically unfair and there is no requisite qualifying service needed to bring a claim. Employees can also bring claims for unlawful discrimination irrespective of their length of service and these types of claim tend to be more expensive for employers.

“Discrimination legislation has been extended over the years, so that many employees are likely to be covered by one of the protected characteristics. In reality it may not make a huge difference to employers in terms of making it easier to dismiss employees in the first two years of their employment. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens.”

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