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Effective date of dismissal is when employee reads dismissal letter

Posted on 9th July 2009
Case law

For the purposes of the time limit for unfair dismissal claims, the effective date of termination is when the dismissal decision is communicated to the employee. This means it is when the employee is told he or she is dismissed or when the letter of dismissal is actually read.

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the EDT was the date she read the letter and not before

Gisda Cyf v Barratt [2009]

This article is not up to date.  To read the Supreme Court decision click on the link.

Background

An employee has three months less one day from the "effective date of termination" ('EDT') to bring a claim of unfair dismissal at the employment tribunal.

When a contract of employment is terminated by notice, the EDT is the date on which the notice expires. But when the contract is terminated without notice, the EDT is the date on which the termination takes effect.

Miss B attended a disciplinary hearing and was told that the decision would be posted to her.

The letter of dismissal was sent by recorded delivery and arrived on Thursday 30th November. The letter was signed for by someone else because Miss B was away from home. It was not until the following Monday that Miss B opened the letter and read that she had been summarily dismissed without any notice.

Miss B claimed unfair dismissal. A preliminary issue arose about whether her claim was in time. It would be if the EDT was the date Miss B read the dismissal letter. It would be out of time if the EDT was the date the dismissal letter was posted or when it was delivered to her home address.

The decision

The Court of Appeal held that the EDT was the date on which the dismissal decision was communicated to Miss B which was the date she read the letter of dismissal and not before.

In practice

This decision is important because it reaffirms the long established principle that there is no concept of constructive or presumed knowledge even if this means the employer cannot be certain of the EDT. Actual knowledge is required for notice of dismissal to be effective.

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