When a notice of dismissal is received by an employee, it is generally considered that the time of dismissal has started immediately. However, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has another say on this issue in its latest ruling point.
Often, the enforceable statutory right of an employee is determined by the time of his notice of dismissal. In includes one year’s continuous employment so that the employee can claim for unfair dismissal along with calculation of last date to submit claim form to the tribunal. Even a single hour late in form submission can result into the rejection of the case. However, the employee is still in a dilemma about when the dismissal countdown actually begins. It is immediately after the notice is communicated to the employee or a day after receiving the notice!
Citing an example from the recent case of Wang v University of Keele 2011, the question about the beginning of notice period time was considered by the EAT. It started after Dr Wang on November 3 2008, received an email from his boss stating his termination of performance grounds. He was given 3 months’ notice of dismissal and asked not to continue with his work for the time being. Also, few days later he was given a letter stating his salary would cease on February 2 2009.
Dr Wang further brought the claim for unfair dismissal to EAT on May 2, 2009. Before considering its merits, EAT had to decide whether a claim was lodged within three moths of his termination. Ultimately, it was decided that Dr. Wang was late by one day to miss the deadlines of claiming unfair dismissal as the notice time counted from February 2 only when the email was sent.
However, according to existing law, “unless there’s an express term in a contract stating when a notice of dismissal will start, it commences the day after it’s been given”. Thus Dr Wang appealed to EAT on the basis that his contract was not clear to this point and EAT should overturn its earlier decision as his notice began on November 4 2008. It also meant that he was just on the right time to claim dismissal as the deadline becomes May 3 considering notice taking effect from February 3.
Considering the fact, EAT also dismissed salary payment letter from University considering it irrelevant being February 2 Wang’s “effective date of dismissal”. EAT is also supposed to favor the recipient or employee generally when the starting time of notice period is uncertain. From company’s point of view, it is really important to specifically mention the time of notice of dismissal in the contract to run the notice period soon. For instance you can state it as ‘the notice will take effect immediately from the date it is given’ and can protect an extra 24 hours’ from employees to lodge a claim.