Following the Government’s ‘Resolving Workplace Disputes’ consultation in January 2011, proposals were made to increase the length of service required to make a tribunal claim from one year to two. We initially reported the prospect of this in our October 2011.

The aim was ‘to provide more time for employers and employees to resolve difficulties, give employers greater confidence in taking on people and ease the process for employment tribunals.’

The changes were effected on  6th April 2012.

Employers might be forgiven for overlooking the critical fact that the change only applies to employees who are employed on or after this date.

A possible unintended downside of this change could be an employee may now try and bring other reasons of automatic unfair dismissal and discrimination into their claims which do not have a service qualification, in order to be able to make an employment tribunal claim.

This can very quickly leave an employer confused as to where they stand and what potential risks they may face.

Firstly, it is worth employers remembering that, just as formal disciplinary action should only be used if informal methods have failed to resolve the issue, dismissal should always be the last resort.

The table to the below seeks to clarify, in a quick reference format, the qualifying criteria for tribunal claims.  This should help employers to be better placed to defend themselves in such scenarios.


  • Discrimination on grounds of age, disability, gender, re-assignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation
  • Health and safety dismissal
  • Pregnancy, childbirth, paternity, adoption related dismissal
  • Dismissal asserting a statutory right
  • Dismissal connected with refusing to exceed the 48-hour working week
  • Dismissal relating to Trade Union membership or non-membership
  • Dismissal in connection with the National Minimum Wage
  • Dismissal for whistleblowing
  • Equal pay claim
  • Wrongful dismissal or contract claims by an employee


  • Unfair dismissal claim by employees whose period of continuous service began on or before 5 April 2012


  • Unfair dismissal claim by employees whose period of continuous service began on or after 6 April 2012

If you would like advice to help you navigate this tricky area please contact Anita Wynne at Beststart HR on or Tel: 01438 747 747