We use cookies to improve our site and your experience.

By continuing to browse on this website you accept the use of cookies.

Privacy Notice

Signed, sealed but what about delivered?

Signed, sealed but what about delivered?

When does an employee’s employment terminate when they are on holiday and only read the termination letter on their return? Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood (Court of Appeal)

In April 2011, Ms Haywood was told that she was at risk of redundancy and the decision was subsequently made to terminate her employment. The date of her termination was significant because if her redundancy was effective after her 50th birthday (20 July 2011) then she would have been entitled to a considerably more generous pension than if she’d been made redundant before that date. Under her contract, Ms Haywood was entitled to be given 12 weeks’ notice, although her contract didn’t say anything about how notice was deemed to be given.

In order for Ms Haywood to be entitled to her enhanced pension payment, she would have to receive notice on or after 27 April 2011.

Ms Haywood went on holiday on 19 April 2011, returning on 27 April 2011.

On 20 April 2011, her employer sent notice of termination to her by recorded delivery, ordinary post and by email to her husband’s email address. However, Ms Haywood did not read the email sent to her husband and did not receive either of the letters until after her return from holiday on 27 April 2011.

The majority decision of the judges was that contractual notice of termination was given when it was actually communicated rather than on delivery or any deemed date of receipt.

Where the exact termination date of employment is important (for example where employees are reaching two years’ continuous service) employers should take note of this case. Practical tips arising from this case would be to:

  • Communicate notice of termination in person if possible
  • Confirm the correct email address for correspondence
  • Telephone the employee to check whether they have received the letter
  • Use a read receipt on emails
  • Let employees know when they should expect to receive any letter and check whether they have any pre-booked holidays