January 3, 2014

Third party dismissal communication is effective

The Claimant, who worked in a GP practice for over 40 years, went on sick leave with stress following allegations of serious misconduct. She was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct in her absence and her solicitor was informed of this by email on the 6th July 2011. Her solicitor told her about the decision the following day and she then received a letter from her employer confirming this on the 8th July. The unfair dismissal and disability discrimination claims were lodged on the 7th October, on the face of it one day late. The Tribunal found that the solicitor was acting as the Claimant’s agent and that the effective date of dismissal was in fact the 7th July when this was communicated by the solicitor to the Respondent. The EAT upheld the Tribunal decision, holding that what was essential was that the contract does not effectively terminate until the employee knows of the dismissal or has a reasonable opportunity to find out about it. There was no reason why the third party communication of the dismissal should be ignored for these purposes.

This legal update is provided for general information purposes only and should not be applied to specific circumstances without prior consultation with us.

For further details on any of the issues covered in this update please contact Gemma Ospedale, Partner in Employment on 020 7583 2222.

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