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Unfair dismissal: qualifying service rule

Published Wednesday, June 20, 2018

This note summarises the qualifying period of employment needed to acquire the right not to be unfairly dismissed.

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Employees acquire the right not to be unfairly dismissed after two years of continuous employment with their employer. The two-year period was implemented by the Unfair Dismissal and Statement of Reasons for Dismissal (Variation of Qualifying Period) Order 2012 (SI 2012/989), affecting persons whose employment commenced on or after 6 April 2012.

Immediately prior to this, section 108 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 provided for a one-year qualifying period. Since the right to claim unfair dismissal was introduced by the Industrial Relations Act 1971, the qualifying period has been amended several times, ranging between six months and two years.

The qualifying period applies to normal unfair dismissal claims. Besides these, legislation deems certain reasons for dismissal to be “automatically unfair”. If dismissal is for one of these reasons the qualifying period will generally not apply.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-8347

Author: Douglas Pyper

Topic: Employment

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