Served when read


When an employer gives notice to its employee, when does the notice period start to run from?

Author: Kiril Moskovchuk
Reading time: 2 minutes

This article is 3 years old.

Read our disclaimer keyboard_arrow_down

This website content is intended as a general guide to law as it applies to the motor trade. Lawgistics has taken every effort to ensure that the contents are as accurate and up to date as at the date of first publication.

The laws and opinions expressed within this website may be varied as the law develops. As such we cannot accept liability for or the consequence of, any change of law, or official guidelines since publication or any misuse of the information provided.

The opinions in this website are based upon the experience of the authors and it must be recognised that only the courts and recognised tribunals can interpret the law with authority.

Examples given within the website are based on the experience of the authors and centre upon issues that commonly give rise to disputes. Each situation in practice will be different and may comprise several points commented upon.

If you have any doubt about the correct legal position you should seek further legal advice from Lawgistics or a suitably qualified solicitor. We cannot accept liability for your failure to take professional advice where it should reasonably be sought by a prudent person.

All characters are fictitious and should not be taken as referring to any person living or dead.

Use of this website shall be considered acceptance of the terms of the disclaimer presented above.

The Supreme Court handed down its decision in Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood.

The point of dispute was a rather technical matter and what many would have believed was a settled point: when an employer gives notice to its employee, when does the notice period start to run from? Is it when the notice is sent? Or perhaps is it when the notice is delivered or presumed to be delivered? Or could it be when the employee actually has a chance to read it?

In this case the starting point of the notice, notice of redundancy dismissal as it was, mattered as depending on when the notice expired, and the employment ended, the employee would or would not have been entitled to certain occupational pension benefits. When the employment termination notice was sent the employee was away on holiday and did not have a chance to read the letter until she returned a week later.

Unsurprisingly, the Supreme Court by a 3-2 majority decided to follow the case law established by the Employment Appeal Tribunal. The relevant point in time is when the employee read the notice. Such is the implied term of each employment contract.

Lady Hale then clarified that an employment contract may have express provisions deviating from the implied term. If the employer would like the notice period to start when the notice is delivered, for example, service of notice is deemed to take effect on the second business day after posting, the employment contract would need to say so explicitly.

Another alternative would be to announce dismissal and give notice in a meeting, confirming with a letter.

Kiril Moskovchuk

Legal Advisor

Read more by this author

Getting in touch

You can contact us via the form or you can call us on 01480 455500.