It may seem like a minor detail but when an employer gives notice to an employee that their role is being terminated, when does that notice start to take effect?
It pays to understand the law, which was recently clarified in the case of Newcastle-upon-Tyne NHS -v- Haywood.
The case centred on when the timing of a notification of termination officially started. The NHS Associate Director was being made redundant but if the redundancy took effect after her 50th birthday, her pension would increase substantially.
Her employer served her notice to terminate before her 50th birthday by ordinary post, a recorded delivery, and electronically to her husband’s email address.
But Mrs Haywood was on holiday and didn’t see the communications until she returned. The NHS Trust said her contract should have terminated 12 weeks after the letter was sent but Mrs Haywood claimed it should be 12 weeks from when it was read. This would mean her employment did not terminate until after her birthday, allowing the increased pension payments.
Her claim was upheld by the Court of Appeal recently following a six-year legal battle.
It’s a common problem that employers believe notice to terminate is the actual date it was sent but that is clearly not the case, clarified by this ruling.
The official date of a notice of termination is the date the employee receives it. If you are giving notice to terminate and you know, for example, the employee is going to be on holiday, consider trying to get the notice to them in person, or factor in issues like this when calculating when to issue the formal notification.