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A Cumbria-based employment expert is warning businesses to guard against complacency when new rules on unfair dismissal which were introduced on Friday (April 6).
Tina Clayton, HR consultant at Moore and Smalley Chartered Accountants and Business Advisors in Kendal, believes many businesses could misinterpret the law change which extends the length of qualifying service for unfair dismissal claims from one year to two years.
By requiring employees to have worked with a company for two years before they become eligible to make a claim to an employment tribunal, the Government hopes this will give employers the confidence to start recruiting again.
However, Tina says businesses need to be aware that employment areas that currently require no qualifying service for a claim, such as those involving discrimination or statutory rights, remain unchanged.
She said: “There is a potential for businesses, particularly owner-managed businesses with no dedicated HR manager, to think these new rules mean they can dismiss people that have been employed for the less than two years without any employment claim arising.
“However, there are many areas covered by unfair dismissal rules that require no qualifying service for a claim, most notably for discrimination and where statutory employment rights are breached, such as the right to maternity and paternity leave.”
Discrimination claims are complex in nature, costlier to defend and attract higher compensation on average than unfair dismissal claims because awards are uncapped. Forms of discrimination include race, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, religion or belief, age or disability.
Tina added: “Employers need to take great care to ensure they continue to comply with the law. This means ensuring there is a fair reason for dismissing any employee, following the correct procedure when dismissing an employee, and not dismissing an employee for an automatically unfair reason.”
According to Tina, employers should look to review their dismissal procedures in consideration of any incorporated timeframes, such as the length of employee probationary periods.