Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood [2018] UKSC 22

Appeal by the Respondent NHS Trust against a decision on when notice of termination by reason of redundancy starts to run and hence whether the Claimant was entitled to an early retirement pension. Appeal dismissed.

This case hinged on the date when notice of termination of employment began to run. This was important because, if the Claimant's employment terminated by reason of redundancy on or after her 50th birthday on 20 July 2011, she would be entitled to claim a non-actuarially reduced early retirement pension. If it terminated before that date, she would not.

On 20 April 2011, the Trust issued written notice of termination of her employment on the ground of redundancy giving 12 weeks contractual notice but, as the Claimant was on holiday, she did not read it until 27 April. She claimed that the 12 weeks notice expired on 20 July, her 50th birthday, and accordingly that she was entitled to the early retirement pension. The Trust claimed that notice was given before 27 April and therefore she was not entitled to the early retirement pension.

The issue before the court was:

If an employee is dismissed on written notice posted to his home address, when does the notice period begin to run? Is it when the letter would have been delivered in the ordinary course of post? Or when it was in fact delivered to that address? Or when the letter comes to the attention of the employee and he has either read it or had a reasonable opportunity of doing so?

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the Claimant by a majority of 3 to 2 and said the third option was correct. The EAT has been consistent in its approach to notices given to employers since 1980. The EAT is an expert tribunal which must be taken to be familiar with employment practices, as well as the general merits in employment cases.

Read the full text of the judgment on the Supreme Court website here.

Published: 25/04/2018 10:59

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