Dismissal: When does notice start?

2 mins

Posted on 09 Jun 2011

In Wang v University of Keele, the EAT has confirmed that, unless an employment contract provides otherwise, contractual notice will run from the day after the notice is given, irrespective of whether the notice is given orally or in writing. 

An unfair dismissal claim must be presented at an Employment Tribunal, within 3 months of the “beginning of the effective date of termination”.  So where notice is given, the termination date will be the day on which notice expires.  The question in this case was when did notice begin?  

Mr Wang was sent a letter by the University, in which he was given 3 months’ notice.  The letter was received and read by Mr Wang on 3 November.  Mr Wang then lodged proceedings at the ET on 2 May, but the ET dismissed the claim as being a day out of time.  The ET considered that the effective date of termination was 2 February.  The EAT disagreed - notice began on 4 November and therefore his employment terminated on 3 February.  This was despite the fact that Mr Wang was only paid up to 2 February and not 3 February.  The EAT confirmed that notice can only be shortened when both parties agree and therefore Mr Wang was entitled to a further day’s pay.

This case is useful as it clarifies the position in respect of the giving or receiving of notice.  The EAT also observed that notice can be given by text message, email or even instant messaging.  However due to likely evidential issues these cannot be recommended as a means of giving effective notice of termination and should therefore be avoided. 

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