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Resignations and the effective date of termination

As many of you are no doubt aware, employees have three months from the effective date of termination of their employment to raise a claim of unfair dismissal. However, establishing the effective date of termination is not always straightforward, as in the case of Secretary of State for Justice v Hibbert.

Mrs Hibbert wrote a letter dated 29 June 2012 saying: “I have no alternative but to resign my position.” However, her employer then stated that, in line with her contractual requirement to give four weeks’ notice, her last day of employment would be 27 July 2012.

When Mrs Hibbert raised a constructive unfair dismissal claim, her employer argued it was out of time as it was lodged with the tribunal more than three months after her resignation letter of 29 June.

However, Mrs Hibbert argued it was in time, as it was lodged within three months of 27 July – the date her employer had advised was her last day of employment.

The EAT found that the employer’s letter advising Mrs Hibbert that she was required to give four weeks’ notice, and in fact paying her for that notice, had no legal effect. Rather, Mrs Hibbert’s own letter amounted to an unambiguous resignation with immediate effect (i.e. she terminated the contract without notice) meaning the effective date of termination was 29 June. Her claim was therefore out of time.

This decision turned on the particular facts of the case. Speak to your usual Brodies’ contact if you need advice on your own circumstances.

Users of Workbox, the employment team’s online HR site, can access detailed information on Resignations and Notice in the dedicated sections of the site. These include answers to a host of practical questions around managing resignations and notice periods.

Contact us or speak to your usual Brodies’ contact to discuss a free trial or subscription options.

 

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