When is the effective date of termination?
The Employment Tribunal case of Sault v Empire Amusements & Cheeky Monkey’s Soft Play Centre serves as a reminder to employers of the need to clearly communicate an employee’s dismissal and take steps to prove they’ve done so.
The employee was absent from work because of ill health and had not been in touch with her employer for several weeks because she was unwell. The employer claimed they hand delivered a letter to the employee’s home address explaining that if they did not hear from her within seven days, they would end her employment. After receiving no response, they said a further letter was hand delivered telling the employee that her employment had been summarily terminated.
However, following this, the employee sent in a fit note. The Employer acknowledged receipt and wrote to the absent employee explaining that they couldn’t pay SSP but did not tick the box on the SSP1 form to indicate that this was because she was no longer their employee.
The employee stated that the first time she was aware she had been dismissed was when she returned to work and was told by a manager that she had been replaced following her dismissal.
Considering all the evidence, the Employment Judge decided that this was the point of termination of employment – rather than the date that the employer claimed in their earlier letters. The employer had no evidence that their letters had been delivered, and so the onus was on them to prove that their letters had been received – something which they failed to do.
The learning point from this particular case is to always use recorded delivery in this type of situation, and avoid hand delivery unless there is a signature to confirm receipt.