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Timing of Notice of Termination

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Where an employment contract is silent on when notice is deemed to be given, when does notice of termination take effect?

On actual receipt, held the Court of Appeal (by a majority) in Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood.

In April 2011, Ms Haywood was told she was at risk of redundancy. She turned 50 on 20 July 2011. Redundancy after her 50th birthday would have entitled her to a considerably more generous pension than redundancy beforehand. Ms Haywood was contractually entitled to be given 12 weeks’ notice, but her contract was silent about how notice was deemed given.

On 19 April 2011, Ms Haywood went on holiday, returning on 27 April. On 20 April, her employer sent notice of termination by recorded delivery and ordinary post and an email to her husband’s email address. She read the notice on her return from holiday.

Although the judges disagreed with each other about the reason why, the majority held contractual notice of termination was given on actual receipt rather than on delivery or any deemed date of receipt. Ms Haywood thus received notice on 27 April and termination took place after her 50th birthday.

Thanks to Jason Braier of Field Court Chambers for preparing this case summary.

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