There has been talk of increasing the qualifying period of service (to acquire unfair dismissal rights) from one year to two. In the fairly recent past the qualifying period has been as low as six months and as long as two years so this is not a new idea. The complicating factor that employers need to keep in mind is that relatively few tribunal claims are for Unfair Dismissal alone.

There is a wide range of claims which have no service qualification at all. These include any discrimination issue, Health & Safety, Assertion of statutory rights, Public Interest Disclosure & Pregnancy. This is why we always advise clients to have a formal meeting with someone who is to be dismissed, even if the person has less than one year’s service. This puts on record the real reason for dismissal.

And on the negative side (for business) the Government has proposed to introduce fines for employers who lose at tribunal. The amount would be 50% of the compensation awarded, albeit with a minimum of £100 and a maximum of £5,000. This also links to a proposal to introduce a system of formal offers. Under such a system, awards might be increased or reduced or costs awarded if no compensation is awarded.