In Wang v University of Keele the EAT has confirmed that a notice of dismissal does not normally take effect until the day after it is received. This rule applies whether the communication of the notice is oral or by e-mail, letter or text. In this case Mr Wang had received a letter by e-mail at 4.40 pm on 3 November 2008, dismissing him on three months’ notice. The EAT decided, after a lengthy review of the relevant case law, that the notice period did not start to run until the following day. That meant it expired on 3 February 2009. So the claim for unfair dismissal, which was lodged on 2 May 2009, was in time.
Simple enough? Well, two qualifications are necessary. First, there is always the possibility that the contract of employment will make express provision for when notice starts to run, and if clear wording is used, this will take precedence. Secondly this decision is principally about identifying the effective date of termination (which defines the start of the three-month limitation period for unfair dismissal claims) in cases where notice is given to the employee. If an employee is dismissed without notice, or the notice is given for other purposes, then different considerations arise.