Effective Date of Termination: 3rd Party knowledge
If you are considering making a claim at the employment tribunal for unfair dismissal then one of the first things you need to know is that you have 3 months minus one day from your effective date of termination to submit a claim. Now often it is fairly clear cut when you are dismissed, you’ll either be told in a meeting or you will have a letter saying what your last day is. There has however been a fairly recently case which highlights the issue of your effective date of termination if a 3rd party informs you of your dismissal prior to receiving official notice from your employer.
This is the case of Robinson v Bowskill & Ors Practising as Fairhill Medical Practice. In this case the Claimant was signed off sick and actually communicating with her employer through her solicitor. The employer informed the solicitor that the Claimant had been dismissed on 6 July 2011 and the solicitor informed the Claimant on 7 July 2011 of this information. The Claimant then received an official letter from her employer on 8 July confirming her dismissal. The Claimant went on to submit a claim on the 7 October having used the 8 July as her effective date of termination.
At tribunal they had to decide what the effective date of termination was. As the solicitor was acting as the agent of the Claimant they held that the effective date of termination was 7 July meaning that the claim had a deadline of 6 October rather than 7 October when she submitted the Claim in this instance. They did consider if they could allow the submission out of time however they held that it had been reasonably practicable for the Claimant to submit it within time and therefore it would not be just and equitable to extend the time limit.
Decision of the Employment Appeal Tribunal
They appealed the decision to dismiss however the EAT held that a dismissal was effective once it had be communicated to the employee OR she had a reasonable opportunity to know. This is in line with the decision of Gisda Cyf v Barratt. They stated that being told of the dismissal by her solicitor was sufficient and that the fact that she received a letter the next day did not change the effective date of termination.
It should however be noted that although they did not allow the unfair dismissal claim to proceed due to the failure to submit in line with the limitation date. In this instance they felt that the failure of the solicitor should not have been held against the Claimant when considering whether it was just and equitable.
The decision of the EAT shows that when it comes to discrimination claims they may be more willing to consider allowing a claim to progress if it is out of time however don’t believe that they will just accept any reason. It does still need to be just and equitable to do so.
Worried about your deadline?
If you have been dismissed and you feel you are running out of time to submit a claim please do not hesitate to contact us on 0800 014 8727 where one of our professional team will be able to discuss your situation with you and advise you on your effective date of termination. We will also be able to advise you on whether we believe your case is one that we could take forward on a no win no fee basis.