27/08/2010

Employment e-Brief – termination of employment date

Bryony Goldspink, employment solicitor

Mr R Wedgewood v Minstergate Hull Ltd [2010] was a case concerning when Mr Wedgewood’s employment had terminated.

Facts

On 4 November 2008 Mr Wedgewood was sent a letter confirming his selection for redundancy which stated that his notice period would expire on 1 December 2008.

Mr Wedgewood worked his notice period until 26 November. He then asked the Company whether he could leave early due to him having completed his work. This was agreed by the Company and confirmed in writing on the same day. The letter stated: “I write to confirm that you can be released today and will still be paid up to and including your notice period date Monday 1st December 2008”.

Mr Wedgewood claimed that his termination date was 1 December as originally intended and he was on garden leave for the remainder of his notice period. The Company, however, claimed that his termination date was 26 November and he had been paid in lieu of the remainder of his notice period. This would mean that his Tribunal claim was out of time.

Implications of the Judgement

The EAT agreed with Mr Wedgewood that his termination date was 1 December and therefore his claim was in time. The EAT concluded that the wording of the letter did not clearly show that it had been agreed that his employment would come to an end with immediate effect. Instead, he was simply released from having to work during the remainder of his notice period.

It is therefore important that an employee’s termination date is made clear. If it is intended that an employee is paid in lieu of all or part of their notice period, this should be made clear in writing, including confirming the actual termination date to avoid any ambiguity. The termination date is relevant, not only in terms of time limits for Tribunal claims, but also in relation to the enforceability of contractual terms and the duration of post-termination restrictions.

If you have any queries in relation to this case or the termination of employment, please contact a member of the employment team who will be happy to assist.