Guide

Continuous employment and employee rights

Minimum periods of continuous employment and qualification dates for employment rights

The following table sets out the minimum periods of continuous employment an employee needs to qualify for certain statutory employment rights. It also gives the relevant date on which an employee qualifies for that right.

Note that any statutory employment rights not listed here have no minimum service requirement. For example, an employee has the right to take statutory maternity leave or paid annual leave from day one of their employment.

 
Statutory employment right Minimum period of continuous employment needed to qualify Qualification date Further information
Guarantee payment One month End of the last complete week before the day on which payment is due Pay: employer obligations
Remuneration on suspension on medical grounds One month The day before that on which the suspension begins  
Notice of termination One month Date notice given Issue the correct periods of notice
Written statement of the particulars of employment Two months   The written statement
Option to join stakeholder pension scheme Three months   Stakeholder pensions
Maternity pay 26 weeks End of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth Maternity leave and pay
Paternity leave and pay (births) 26 weeks End of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth Paternity leave and pay
Paternity leave and pay (UK adoptions) 26 weeks End of the week in which the main adopter was notified of having been matched with the child for adoption Paternity leave and pay
Paternity leave and pay (overseas adoptions) 26 weeks End of the week in which the main adopter received official notification or by the time their leave/pay is due to begin, whichever is later Paternity leave and pay
Adoption leave and pay (UK adoptions) 26 weeks End of the week in which adopter was notified of having been matched with the child for adoption Adoption leave and pay
Adoption leave and pay (overseas adoptions) 26 weeks End of the week in which the adopter received official notification or by the time their leave/pay is due to begin, whichever is later Adoption leave and pay
Right to make a flexible working request 26 weeks Date of application Flexible working: the law and best practice
Parental leave One year The start date of their first period of parental leave Parental leave and time off for dependants
Written statement of reasons for dismissal One year (none if dismissal occurs during an employee's pregnancy or statutory maternity leave) Generally the last day on which the employee worked Dismissing employees
Right to claim unfair dismissal Generally one year, but some dismissals require no minimum period, eg dismissals relating to pregnancy or maternity. (One month where medical suspension could apply) The date when employee's contractual notice or statutory minimum notice expires (or would have expired), whichever is the later Dismissing employees
Redundancy payment Two years The date when employee's contractual notice or statutory minimum notice expires (or would have expired), whichever is the later Redundancy: the options
Paid time off to look for work or to arrange training when being made redundant Two years The date when employee's contractual notice or statutory minimum notice expires (or would have expired), whichever is the later Redundancy: the options
To become a permanent employee on the renewal of a fixed-term contract (or re-engagement on a new fixed-term contract) and to a written statement confirming this Four years unless continuation of the fixed-term contract can be objectively justified. Service before 10 July 2002 does not count The date on which the employee acquired four years' continuous service Recruiting staff

 

See Labour Relations Agency guidance on employment rights qualifying periods.