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Changes to Unfair Dismissal

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester the Chancellor, George Osborne, has confirmed regressive plans to remove employment rights from employees in favour of an easy ride for employers.

In a move that has exasperated NACO and the wider trade union movement, Osborne announced that the qualifying period for unfair dismissal is to rise from 12 months to two years. The plans will remove access to justice for thousands of people whilst providing immunity for employers to take advantage of unprotected staff.

The Conservative Party claim theses changes, first seen in a consultation document published earlier this year, will remove a “barrier to growth” and create a more “flexible and dynamic” labour market.

It is clear that the Government is relying on cheap throw-away labour to stimulate economic growth when the UK should be investing in secure jobs and a highly skilled labour force. The plans outlined above are an unveiled attempt to erode employment rights and hand power to employers at the expense of ordinary working people.

Commenting on the extended qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims, Mark Taylor of law firm Jones Day believes “Most employers will decide if an employee is any good within 12 months, meaning the qualification period of two years will probably not materially change the number of claims.” he continues, “In reality, all that is likely to happen is the peak in dismissal rates which currently occurs immediately prior to employees qualifying for unfair dismissal protection will move from the eleventh month of employment to the twenty third month.”

Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC says "While employer groups complain that tribunals are costing them too much, they have lost sight of the fact that if firms treated their staff fairly, few would ever find themselves taken to court".

NACO is extremely disappointed at this announcement, Neil Buist, NACO General Secretary commented “Employment Tribunals are already weighted in favour of the employer – the onus is on employees to demonstrate their employer is in breach of the law. The extension of the minimum term for unfair dismissal claims will give even more power to the employer”.