Continuous Period of Employment

Increase in qualifying period of employment for unfair dismissal claims

Qualifying period increases to 2 years

As from 6th April 2012 the qualifying period, for which an employee must be continuously employed, before having the right to bring a claim for unfair dismissal increases from 1 year to 2 years.     Back to the pre1999 position!

This change in the law will only apply to new staff employed on or after 6th April 2012.  This will not affect existing employees, who were already in employment before 6th April 2012.  They still have their existing rights, and do not have to work another year or more before they can claim unfair dismissal.

A word of warning!

Many employment rights have no requirement for a qualifying period of employment, and employees are protected from day one if they are dismissed or selected for redundancy for an automatically unfair reason.   These include, for example:

  • Pregnancy and maternity, paternity, adoption, parental and dependant care leave reasons;
  • Trade union reasons;
  • Assertion of a statutory right;
  • Exercising a right or seeking to exercise a right to be accompanied (or to accompany a colleague) to a grievance or disciplinary hearing;
  • Seeking to enforce the right to request flexible working Making a protected disclosure under the Whistleblowing legislation;
  • Seeking to enforce rights under the National Minimum Wage Regulations;
  • Seeking to enforce rights under the Working Time Regulations;
  • Seeking  to enforce rights to request time off for training

This 2 year period also does not apply to claims which do not relate to dismissal eg discrimination on the grounds of race, sex,  gender, disability or age where there is no qualifying period before which a claim can be made.

Advice for Employers

  • Before dismissing or taking any steps which may lead to dismissal, or if an employee claims any statutory right, always take legal advice, however long they have been employed.This may avoid expensive and time consuming  Employment Tribunal  claims.
  • If a dispute with an employee cannot be dealt with, and there is a risk of claim being made an Employer should consider whether or not a compromise agreement should be offered to terminate employment in a tax efficientmanner.

If you wish to discuss any employment matter (whether you are an Employer or an Employee) please contact Janet Long by email at

The contents of this article are intended for general information only.  It is not a substitute for legal advice, and shall not be deemed to be or constitute legal advice. We therefore cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. We will, however, be pleased to advice you on the specific facts of your case.