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Case update (2): Contracts of employment – when does notice start to run?

What do we already know?

We updated you in our April 2017 Newsletter Contracts of employment – When does notice take effect? on the Court of Appeal’s decision in Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood.

The Court of Appeal decided that notice of termination starts to run on the date of  personal receipt by the individual of the notice (if there is nothing in the employment contract on this point).

The employer appealed to the Supreme Court.

What’s new?

The Supreme Court has confirmed the Court of Appeal’s decision that notice of termination starts to run only when the individual receives it and they have either read it or had a reasonable opportunity of doing so (when the employment contract is silent on this point). The decision is available here.

This Supreme Court decision is final with no further right of appeal.

This leaves uncertainty for employers.  Practical solutions to avoid this are to:

  1. Hand-deliver the letter to the employee; and/or
  2. Include an express provision in the employment contract specifying when written notice is deemed to be received (although this would only change the contractual position, not the effective date of termination for the purpose of statutory rights such as continuity of service).




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