asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will estimate the expected reduction in the number of unfair dismissal cases which will be referred to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service or come before industrial tribunals as a result of the extension of the qualification period for unfair dismissal claims against all employers to two years.
In the year to 31 December 1983, the latest period for which comprehensive statistics are currently available, 30,076 complaints of unfair dismissal to industrial tribunals were referred to the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. 10,381 proceeded to an industrial tribunal hearing. About one in four of the unfair dismissal applications received by the tribunals and referred to the service, and one in five of those requiring a tribunal hearing, were from employees with less than two years' qualifying service. There can of course be no certainty that this pattern would hold for any future period. It is intended that the extended qualifying period will apply only to employees starting work with a new employer on or after the date that the order implementing the change comes into force. The full effect of any reduction in caseloads will not therefore be felt until some two years after the coming into force of the order.