In what circumstances does an employee not need minimum qualifying service to claim unfair dismissal?

In most cases, an employee must meet the qualifying service requirement to be able to claim unfair dismissal. The qualifying period is two years' continuous service.

There are some exceptions to this, which are set out in s.108(3) of the Employment Rights Act 1996. The circumstances in which the requirement for qualifying service does not apply include dismissals for reasons related to:

  • pregnancy;
  • maternity leave, parental leave, paternity leave, adoption leave or time off for dependants;
  • health and safety, such as reporting a health and safety risk or acting as a health and safety representative;
  • working time, such as refusing to opt out of the 48-hour week;
  • making a public interest disclosure (ie whistleblowing);
  • the national minimum wage;
  • trade union membership or activities;
  • the employee's political opinions or affiliation; and
  • membership of the reserve forces.

For a list of reasons for dismissal to which the requirement for qualifying service does not apply, see Automatically unfair reasons for dismissal in the Quick reference tool.