The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced plans to increase the qualifying period for unfair dismissal claims from one year to two years with effect from April 2012.

Populist move or bold stand on behalf of employers?

Time will tell, but some of you will remember that the qualifying period was reduced from two years to one year in 2000 after a successful challenge on the grounds of sex discrimination.  

Leaving aside the question of whether the purpose actually addresses a real block on the recruitment of new employees, one concern is that employees whose protection against unfair dismissal is removed are more likely to pursue other remedies for which no qualifying period is required e.g. discrimination or whistleblowing claims, the consequence of which would be to reduce the amount of relatively simple and cheap unfair dismissal litigation and replace it with expensive and lengthy litigation on other grounds.

No amending legislation has yet been published so we do not know yet how any transitional provisions will work.