The Trades Union Congress (TUC) estimates that some 2.7 million workers in the United Kingdom will be impacted by changes in employment law relating to unfair dismissal. From April 6, 2012, the amount time a worker must have been employed by an employer, before he can make an unfair dismissal claim has doubled to two years, in a reform that the government claims will help to boost employment growth. This change will not affect workers who were taken on prior to April 6, but will impact those hired after that date. The change will not affect cases where dismissal is automatically judged to be unfair because someone is sacked for attempting to exercise their employment rights, since these claims can still be brought against employers at any time. According to Labor Force Survey statistics, more than 50,000 cases of unfair dismissal claims reach tribunals each year. Opponents of this reform, including the TUC, fear that this significant change will result in further cases being brought against employers due to an increase in the culture of “hire and fire” and that certain sectors of the population will be impacted disproportionately. It says that the young, the female population and black and ethnic minorities are more likely to be at risk of unfair dismissal than other workers. Since these minority groups are more likely to be employed in part-time and fixed-term or temporary work of less than one year, they are more likely to be unfairly dismissed. The TUC also warns that in attempts to avoid vexacious claims, further employment law reforms planned for 2013 will require employees to pay to make a claim of unfair dismissal.
According to unreleased government statistics obtained by The Guardian newspaper, the youth unemployment rate for black people has increased at almost twice the rate for white 16- to 24-year-olds since the start of the current recession in 2008. In the last quarter of 2011, some 55.9 percent of young black males were unemployed. Steady rises in the past three years in the numbers of young people unemployed, means that the current number exceeds the previous peak of young unemployed in 1993. During this time, the country suffered serious civil unrest as young people took to the streets to protest in campaigns that saw frenzied violence and destruction.
Unemployment figures for young people could, in fact. be higher than those statistically reported, since students are excluded from official employment and unemployment data gathering and are technically classed as economically inactive, or people who are not currently working or seeking work. Since females and the black and ethnic minorities are less likely to enter higher education than most other groups, they trend higher in official unemployment statistics.
With jobs so difficult to secure, young people have few choices, and are more likely to have to accept part-time and temporary employment, increasing their risk of unfair dismissal.This will, in turn, affect the already depressed economy and manifest in a downturn in consumer spending, as young people in fear of losing their jobs decrease or stop discretionary spending. Increased cases of unfair dismissal will also impact the health of young people. Statistics show that there are connections between unemployment and depressive illnesses and suicide in young people, and the mortality rates of unemployed young men are higher than for the employed.