If a case goes to tribunal one ‘point of law’ which will have to be determined will be to establish the effective date of termination ie the date that the employer terminated employment or the date that someone resigned, and this isn’t always as the employer may have believed!
In Horwood v Lincolnshire County Council, the Employment Appeal Tribunal determined that the effective date of termination (EDT) of an employee’s employment was the date that her letter of resignation was received and opened at her employers and not the date that the employee had written or sent the letter or a date after that which had been confirmed in writing by her employer.
Details of the case
Ms. Horwood tendered her resignation on 27 January 2010. She stated it to be with immediate effect. She sent it to three members of the Council and although the Council received the letter on 29 January 2010 when it was opened and date-stamped, one of the members only read the resignation letter on 1 February 2010. A confirmatory letter was sent on 2 February quoting her effective date of termination as being 2 February 2010. At no time did Ms. Horwood query this date or disagree with it.
Ms. Horwood lodged claims for unfair dismissal and unlawful deduction of wages at the Employment Tribunal on 29 April 2010. There is a general rule that such claims must be lodged within three months of the acts complained of. The Council argued that the EDT was 29 January 2010, the date her resignation letter was date-stamped and therefore her claim was out of time. Ms. Horwood argued that her EDT was 2 February 2010, the date referred to in the confirmatory letter and that her claim was within the three-month time limit.
The EAT Decision
The ET held that Ms. Horwood’s claim was out of time, and further held that the EDT had not been amended by the confirmatory letter from her employer.
The Appeal Decision
Ms. Horwood appealed to the EAT which ultimately held that the ET was correct to conclude on the facts that the EDT was 29 January 2010. The ET’s finding that no agreement was concluded between the Council and Ms. Horwood to amend the EDT was upheld.
If you are unsure check with your Alcumus consultant to clarify what should be taken as the EDT.
Julie Dawson, Head of HR Consultancy, Alcumus