When does notice of dismissal take effect?

If the contract is silent, when the employee personally takes delivery of the notice – confirmed by the Court of Appeal in Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust (“the Trust”) v Haywood.

Ms Haywood was made redundant and notice of her dismissal was sent by recorded delivery, standard delivery and email. Unfortunately, Ms Haywood was abroad when the letters were sent and she did not read the letters until her return. The date her dismissal took effect was important; if it was after 26 April 2011 she was entitled to a higher pension figure.  The Court of Appeal held that Ms Haywood’s notice of dismissal was effective when it was actually received by her (which was when Ms Haywood read the letter on 27 April 2011) and not when the letter was delivered or deemed received.

This case highlights the importance of certainty when issuing notice of termination particularly where the date of termination is critical. Employers can ensure certainty by either drafting a clause into the contract of employment which expressly states when notice is deemed to be served or by communicating notice in person, for example, at a final consultation/disciplinary outcome.