Vasella Ltd and anor v Eyre EAT 0039/11

Ms Eyre was employed in a Glasgow hotel by Vasella. CM managed the hotel. On Sunday 21 November 2010 she went to the hotel with a sealed envelope addressed to P, the hotel’s general manager.  Inside the envelope was a letter containing her resignation which was dated 22 November and which stated that she wished to resign with immediate effect.  P did not work on Sundays and Ms Eyre knew this.  She handed the envelope to the duty manager, M, and asked her to put it in P’s pigeonhole.  P was on leave and would not be back in the hotel until Wednesday and so later that evening Ms Eyre emailed her resignation to B, CM’s executive PA.  B did not work on Sundays but she read the email that evening and forwarded it to others at CM.

B replied to Ms Eyre’s email the next day accepting her resignation and stating that her final day of employment would be Monday 22 November.  Ms Eyre brought a claim for unfair constructive dismissal on 21 February 2011. Vasella maintained that her effective date of termination was 21 November meaning that her claim was out of time.  The Tribunal disagreed on the basis that her letter of resignation clearly expressed the intention that 22 November should be her date of termination.  Vasella appealed to the EAT.  There Lady Smith held that even though Ms Eyre’s letter was delivered to the hotel on 21 November it communicated that she was resigning on the following day.  B’s reply to her resignation also made it clear that this was their understanding of the position.  Accordingly Ms Eyre’s claim was in time.  She should not be held to an effective date of termination that she could not reasonably have thought would be the date her employment terminated.

Key point:  Employees should not leave the lodging of claims with the Tribunal to the very last minute to avoid claims being out of time or incurring costs in debating the issue.

Hawes & Curtis v Arfan & Mirza UKEAT/0229/12

Mr Arfan was the manager of Hawes’ shirt store in Liverpool Street station and Mr Mirza was the store supervisor.  On 8 September 2010 they were both suspended on full pay as Hawes discovered there were substantial stock losses at the shop.  Hawes instituted disciplinary proceedings against them both and on 5 October 2010 both were dismissed.  Hawes could not identify the individual who was responsible for the “act” of stock loss and each employee was identified as a member of a group of employees who were responsible for the act, all of whom could have been individually capable of committing the act.  They appealed under the internal disciplinary procedure but for the most part their appeals were unsuccessful.  However following their appeals the date of termination of their contracts was varied to 4 November in a letter to them of the same date setting out the result of their appeals and they were both paid until 4 November.

The question for the Tribunal was whether they had brought their claims in time.  Was the effective date of termination was 5 October or 4 November?  If it was 5 October the claims were out of time.  The EAT held that the claims were in time and that the effective date of termination was 4 November.  Hawes argued that the applicable date was when the summary dismissal was communicated which could not be varied by appeal.  The EAT disagreed.  In this case Hawes intended to change and did change the effective date of termination.

Key point:  Employers should note this decision will be applicable in a rare case as the starting point of a dismissal without notice is the date on which the termination took effect, i.e. before the internal appeal process.