Employers across the South Yorkshire region should be aware that changes to the law on unfair dismissal are not all they may first appear, according to Sheffield-based employment law specialist Barry Warne.
Mr Warne, partner with hlw Keeble Hawson Solicitors - one of the region's biggest practices with offices in Sheffield, Leeds and Doncaster - says there is no room for complacency following next month’s changes in employment law.
From April 6 new employees will have had to be in a job for two years before they have the right to bring a tribunal claim for unfair dismissal - up from 12 months. However, there are still several situations in which there is no qualifying period – for example where dismissals are claimed to be a result of discrimination or whistleblowing. A further exception is for employees whose employment began before April 6 2012, as they will still be able to bring a tribunal claim after being employed for 12 months.
Barry Warne explained: “It’s essential for employers to remain vigilant in order to minimise the risk of a costly employment tribunal. The extension of the period of employment after which an unfair dismissal claim can be brought means that employees will focus on bringing any grievance to tribunal under one of the unrestricted categories – whistleblowing or discrimination being obvious examples.
“The best approach is for employers to ensure they have proper disciplinary procedures in place, and to maintain good communication with employees so that any grievances can be nipped in the bud at an early stage.”