In Horwood v Lincolnshire County Council, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has upheld an Employment Tribunal's finding that the effective date of termination of an employee's employment was the date that her letter of resignation was received and opened at the Lincolnshire County Council (the "Council") office.
Ms. Horwood tendered her resignation to the Council which was expressed to be with immediate effect, on 27 January 2010 by sending a resignation letter to three members of the Council. The Council received the letter on 29 January 2010 and it was opened and date-stamped that day. One of the members only read the resignation letter on 1 February 2010 and then sent Ms. Horwood a confirmatory letter on 2 February quoting her effective date of termination ("EDT") as being 2 February 2010. At no time did Ms. Horwood query her EDT of 2 February 2010.
Ms. Horwood lodged claims for unfair dismissal and unlawful deduction of wages at the Employment Tribunal on 29 April 2010. There is a general rule that such claims must be lodged within three months of the acts complained of (such as in this case, the date of Ms. Horwood's resignation). The Council argued that the EDT was 29 January 2010, the date her resignation letter was date-stamped and therefore her claim was out of time. Ms. Horwood argued that her EDT was 2 February 2010, the date referred to in the confirmatory letter and that her claim was within the three-month time limit.
The ET held that Ms. Horwood's claim was out of time, and further held that the EDT had not been amended by the confirmatory letter. Ms. Horwood appealed to the EAT which ultimately held that the ET was correct to conclude on the facts that the EDT was 29 January 2010. The ET's finding that no agreement was concluded between the Council and Ms. Horwood to amend the EDT was upheld.
When an employee decides to resign from an employer, the date of termination is when the employee's communication of their resignation is received by an employer (which in this case was when Ms. Horwood's letter was date-stamped).