From 6 April 2012, an employee will be required to have two
years' continuous employment (the qualifying period) before
being eligible to bring a claim for unfair dismissal before the UK
The announcement was made by the UK government last month in an
attempt to reduce the number of cases being brought before the
tribunals and to help boost the UK's economic growth by
removing just some of the risks incurred by employers in recruiting
Whether this increase will have a positive impact remains to be
seen - those against it feel the increase will only lead to more
discrimination cases being brought before the tribunals, in which
no period of continuous employment is required. It has also been
suggested that in today's difficult economic climate, employers
could now be tempted to select for redundancy those employees with
less than two years' continuous employment; this will prevent
him/her from being eligible to bring a claim if the reasons
surrounding that redundancy are spurious and the employee believes
the dismissal to be unfair.
In addition, from 13 April 2013, an employee who wishes to
pursue a grievance through the UK Employment Tribunals
(irrespective of the grounds) will be required to file an issue fee
of £250 simply for lodging the claim. A further £1,000
will then have to be paid by the employee should the claim proceed
to a tribunal hearing. Again, these measures are being implemented
to reduce the number of tribunals being brought and to encourage
settlement of those claims on the verge of a hearing.
While employers have welcomed these new changes, employees and
trade unions have expressed their concern, arguing it is an erosion
of an employee's rights. Those employees who believe they have
a genuine grievance against an employer may be prevented from
pursuing a claim either because he/she does not have the requisite
two years' continuous employment, or simply because they do not
have the funds to issue a claim in the first place.
Although these measures seem controversial and have
understandably seen strong opposition, according to its recent
impact assessment consultation, the UK government seems committed
to helping UK employers "feel more confident about hiring
people", and creating more time for the employer/ employee
relationship "to get established and work well".
But what impact, if any, will this have on Guernsey
At this stage it appears there will be little impact, unless of
course you are an Island employer with employees working on the
mainland. Your UK employees will be bound by the new measures
should they wish to pursue a grievance through the UK tribunals. It
is also anticipated that Guernsey's Commerce and Employment
will follow the impact of these measures very closely - with claims
to Guernsey's Tribunal forever on the increase, and fewer
claims settling by way of conciliation, if these measures are
successful in reducing the numbers of claims brought in the UK, it
is quite possible that Guernsey may indeed follow suit.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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