An employee was dismissed with four days’ notice although she was entitled to three months’ notice.

In her letter of dismissal from her employer, she was told that she would receive an ex gratia payment equivalent to three months’ salary. The employee brought a claim for breach of contract for failure to pay her salary for three months’ notice period The employer argued that the ex gratia payment was made in respect of the notice period.

  • The EAT held that the money was an unambiguous ex gratia payment, and was not paid in lieu of notice.
  • It was also noted that if the letter had been ambiguous in its wording, it would have been appropriate to construe its wording against the employer as the party who drafted it.

Key point: Be mindful of creating contractual obligations. Wording dealing with payments should be unambiguous.

Publicis Consultants v O'Farrell