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Notice starts to run from date employee reads dismissal letter

Makbool Javaid

In Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood, the Supreme Court had to consider when the notice period begins to run, if an employee is dismissed by written notice posted to his or her home address. If the answer is not specified in the contract of employment, is it (i) when the letter would have been delivered in the ordinary course of post; (ii) when it was in fact delivered to that address; or (iii) when the letter comes to the attention of the employee and he has either read it or had a reasonable opportunity to do so?. The Supreme Court ruled that the EAT had been correct to hold that in Haywood’s case that notice only took effect when it had actually been received by the employee and the employee had either read, or had a reasonable opportunity, of reading it. As Haywood returned from holiday abroad on 27 April 2011 and read the letter on that date, the 12-week notice period started to run from then and expired on 20 July 2011, the date of Haywood’s 50th birthday, meaning that she would be entitled to claim a non-actuarially reduced early retirement pension.

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