The government yesterday announced that it will double the qualifying period of service required for employees to bring an unfair dismissal claim in the employment tribunals.  It will rise from one year to two years. They have stated that the change will take effect from April 2012.  The government estimates this will reduce the number of claims in the employment tribunal by 2,000 per year and “save nearly £6 million for British businesses” - though some commentators doubt the savings will be this great. Importantly, individuals will still be able to bring claims from day one if they suffer discrimination or if other special circumstances apply (for example, whistleblowing).

In addition, in his speech to the Conservative Party Conference yesterday, George Osborne confirmed that the government will go ahead with its proposal to introduce fees for bringing tribunal claims. The fees may prove a disincentive to many employees, though it will be refunded if the claimant wins.  It is proposed that the fee will be introduced from 2013. There has been no formal press release about this change at the time of writing and the amount of the proposed fees remains unconfirmed.  Current press reports suggest that it will cost £250 to lodge a claim with a further £1,000 being payable if it goes to a hearing, with even greater fees for higher value claims.

Until 19 October 2011 employment law is also the focus of the government’s Red Tape Challenge. BIS has prepared a discussion paper, ‘Flexible, Effective, Fair: promoting economic growth through a strong and efficient labour market’ which sets out the government’s approach to reform in this area.  If you want to have your say, you can log on here.