In Francis v Pertemps Recruitment UKEATS/0003/13, the Employment Appeal Tribunal considered whether the Claimant's employment had ended through mutual agreement or whether the Claimant had been dismissed.
Mr Francis was employed by Pertemps Recruitment (Pertemps) under a contract which placed him in work with a particular client. When the client no longer needed Mr Francis' services, Pertemps offered him the option of two weeks' notice plus redundancy pay, or two weeks' notice during which Pertemps would look for alternative work for him. Mr Francis chose the former option and subsequently brought a claim for unfair dismissal. The Tribunal upheld Pertemps' argument that Mr Francis had chosen to leave and there was therefore no dismissal for the purposes of unfair dismissal legislation.
The Employment Appeal Tribunal disagreed. It said that Pertemps' actions were consistent with termination of the employment contract by Pertemps. For example, the HR department had written to Mr Francis confirming that his position was redundant and that he was to treat the letter as "notice of redundancy". He had also been told that he had a right to appeal "against the decision to terminate your employment". In the circumstances therefore, there had been a dismissal and Mr Francis could proceed with his claim.
This is a logical conclusion but is a useful reminder to employers that they should take great care when drafting termination letters. There may be some limited situations where there is a genuine mutually agreed termination, but in almost all cases the termination will have been initiated by one or other of the parties.