The date on which notice is given to an employee is important as it will determine when the employment will terminate, which in turn will be the date at which the 3 months time limit to bring a claim at the Employment Tribunal will begin to run. This may be of particular relevance where the employer wants to ensure that notice is given before the employee has accrued the necessary 1 year’s service to be entitled to bring a claim for unfair dismissal.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal recently ruled that where contractual notice is given (whether orally or in writing) it will take effect from the day after the notice is given, unless the contract states otherwise.
In the matter of Dr T Wang v The University of Keele this issue was key in establishing whether Dr Wang had brought his claim to the Employment Tribunal in time. He had been sent an email on 3 November which gave him 3 months notice of the termination of his employment. The covering letter attached to the email was dated 3 November which would not have been received by post until 4 November at the earliest, and in fact was actually received a few days later. This stated that he would be paid until 2 February 2009. If the effective date of Dr Wang’s termination was 2 February he would have had until 1 May to submit a claim. Dr Wang actually submitted the claim on 2 May. The Employment Tribunal rejected his claim on the basis that it was submitted one day late. On appeal however the Employment Appeal Tribunal reversed this position stating that the issue to resolve was when the notice period had commenced, in this case it was on 4 November meaning that Dr Wang’s claim was within the 3 month time limit.
This minor but important point reminds employers to check their employment contracts and amend them accordingly if they want contractual notice to take effect immediately.