Timing is key in employment termination notices
The Supreme Court has clarified when a notice of termination takes effect where an employment contract is silent on the matter.
In Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood, Mrs Haywood was made redundant by her employer. She had told the Trust that she would be on annual leave from 19 April until 27 April 2011. Mrs Haywood turned 50 on the 20 July 2011, after which her pension would increase significantly. Her employer sent the notice of termination by recorded delivery and ordinary post on the 20 April 2011.
The Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision and the long-standing case law, including Gisda CYF v Barratt, that a notice is only deemed effective once read by the employee, or once a reasonable opportunity to read the notice has presented itself. Consequently, the notice was deemed effective upon Mrs Haywood’s return from holiday on the 27 April and she was entitled to the higher pension.
This case serves as a reminder to employers of the importance of creating certainty with express contractual provisions regarding issuing a notice of termination of employment.