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Government Proposals for Employment Law Reform

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UPDATE: Government Proposals for Employment Law Reform

This is important.

Further to my email bulletin this morning (see below) announcing the government's intention to increase the unfair dismissal qualifying period from one to two years, I have been sent the following statement by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills:-

"We can confirm that there was a drafting error in the Second Statement of New Regulation. No final decision has been taken to increase the unfair dismissal qualifying period."

It seems from conversations that various individuals have had with BIS this afternoon (and thanks to Paul Callaghan of Taylor Wessing for telling me about this), that BIS are still considering the responses to the consultation document and have not reached a decision on whether to increase the unfair dismissal qualifying period.

A correct version of the government proposals is here (see p14). Note that the new phrasing suggests that the increase in qualifying period is a proposal, but the introduction of fees is definitely coming. There is also an excellent blogpost on this topic, from employment barrister Sean Jones, here.


The Government has published on the internet (but not yet in any sort of press release) proposals to deregulate business. They cover all sorts of things, from planning to procurement. Of interest to employment law practitioners, the proposals are:-

  • increase the unfair qualifying dismissal period from one year to two years
  • introduce fees for bringing tribunal claims 
  • consult on removing Equality Act provisions imposing liability on employers for third party harassment which they do not take reasonable steps to prevent

All these were the subject of consultation some time ago, but no Response to the Consultation has yet been published. This new document, 'One-In, One-Out, Second statement of new Regulation [LINK REMOVED]', suggests that the government has already decided what steps it intends to take. See page 14 (Appendix D) of the document.

The question does arise whether these proposals are genuine, or whether they are little more than political grandstanding and cannot be implemented due to EU law issues. Watch this space... 

Daniel Barnett