When does a notice of dismissal take effect?

If I give an employee three months notice this afternoon, when will it end? Does the notice period include today, the day I give the notice, or does it start tomorrow? The answer may be significant in determining when the employees last day of work is and therefore the period in which they can bring a tribunal claim.

This is an issue which has recently been considered by the employment appeal tribunal. The case of Dr Wang v University of Keele involved an employee who was dismissed with three months notice on 3rd November 2008. The dismissal was via a letter which was sent by email, received and read by the employee the same day. The letter did not specify the employees final date of employment. The employee submitted a claim to the employment tribunal on 2nd May 2009. The tribunal struck out the claim as out of time.

Dr Wang appealed. The employment appeal tribunal had to consider which day the notice started on, if it was 3rd November 2008, the final day of employment was 2nd February 2009 and a claim should have been made by 1st May 2009. If however the notice started on 4th November 2008, the last day of employment would be 3rd February 2009 and the claim on 2nd May 2009 would be in time.

The employment appeal tribunal considered the matter and agreed that the claim was in time. The law does not consider fractions or part of days; notice should be clear days and therefore the notice given on 3rd November did not start until the day after.

These are significant issues for employers and these are important in terms of payments due, as well as time limits. An incorrect calculation can result in inaccurate payment being made, incorrect timings and liability where an employer thought that there was none. This case emphasises the need for dates to be clearly agreed and/or clear contractual provision as to when notice will commence. A well drafted payment in lieu clause can also assist in avoiding particular periods of service being reached.

For further advice on this or other employment matters please contact Anna Rabone or Theresa Mimnagh on 01273 236 236.

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