Unfair dismissal qualifying period to be increased to 12 months from 1 January 2015
Jersey’s Social Security Minister has announced today that the qualifying period for unfair dismissal will be increased from 26 weeks to 12 months from January 2015. LAW sees this a welcome relaxation of a part of the employment legislation that will give employers much more confidence to recruit staff. Employers can recruit knowing that, if the relationship does not work out, they will be less likely to face an expensive and time consuming challenge through the Tribunal system, even if all of the proper standards have been met.
Based on the limited information currently available, we have to advise that this does not constitute a “free for all”. Employers must be aware that:
- These changes only relate to contracts entered into from 1 January 2015, therefore all contracts entered into prior to that date will still have a 26 week qualifying period.
- Employees will still receive protection against unfair dismissal, from the first day of employment, in certain circumstances such as:
- dismissal on grounds related to union membership or activities;
- assertion of a statutory right;
- seeking to enforce the minimum wage; or,
- selection for redundancy on grounds related to union membership or activities, assertion of a statutory right, or trying to enforce the minimum wage.
- More importantly, there remains no time limit for any discrimination claims on the grounds of race (colour, national origin, nationality or ethnic origin).
- Under current legislation, employees on fixed term contracts of more than 26 weeks qualify for unfair protection if, at least, two-thirds of the contract’s duration or 13 weeks (whichever is the longer) have expired. At present we are not sure whether this area will also be amended.
In the future, employees can expect other rights when gender/sexual orientation discrimination regulations to come into force in September 2015 (the provisional date for these regulations). We would expect to include dismissals connected to pregnancy, adoption and requesting family friendly changes to be automatically unfair from day one.
All employers must be aware that these amendments should be used responsibly. If it is found that employers abuse this relaxation in the employment law, we can expect the qualifying period to be reduced again just as quickly as it has now been increased.
Should you have any questions regarding these changes, please contact Law At Work on 01534 887088.