When does the dismissal take effect?
It’s not uncommon for dismissals to be issued shortly before the two-year period of continuous employment expires when a company reflects on the suitability or cost of the role on an ongoing basis. Whilst issues should normally have been addressed before this time and the probationary period used, in practice, these matters often come to focus just before the two years expire. In these cases, the timing of the dismissal is crucial to avoid risks of unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal claims.
In the case of Haywood v Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundations Trust, Ms Haywood was on holiday when the notice of her dismissal was sent to her. The Trust delivered the notice by recorded delivery, email and standard post. The impact on when the notice was received was significant to Ms Haywood who would have received a much higher pension if her employment ended after her 50th birthday.
The High Court concluded that the notice of termination of Ms Haywood’s employment was only effective when communicated to her. This was therefore not until she read the letter on her return from holiday, even though;
1. Her husband had read the email;
2. The recorded delivery letter had been collected by her husband the day before.
• Notices of dismissal should, wherever possible be given in person when the timing of the notice is significant.
• Dismissal can be confirmed verbally and then followed up in writing.
• If email notice is to be given you should check that you have the most up to date email address and ask for acknowledgement of delivery, receipt and reading of the message.