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The importance of the effective date of termination

In Horwood v Lincolnshire County Council, an employee sent a letter clearly indicating her immediate resignation. The effective date of termination (“EDT”) was found to be the date on which the letter was opened by administrative staff and date-stamped at her employer’s offices (29th January 2010). The fact that the addressee only read the letter three days later was irrelevant.

This contrasts with the position when an employer summarily dismisses an employee by letter, when the EDT is when the employee actually reads the letter or has a reasonable opportunity to discover its contents (and not the date on which the letter was posted or delivered).

An employee has three months from the EDT in which to bring an unfair dismissal claim and, therefore, establishing the EDT can be important. In the Horwood case the tribunal found that it did not have jurisdiction to hear the unfair dismissal claim as it was lodged on 29th April 2010 – one day after the three month time limit had expired.

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