The Judgment of the High Court in the case of UPC Communications Ireland v Employment Appeals Tribunal (Respondent) and Ann Marie Ryan (Notice Party), [2017] IEHC 567 examined the issue of when an employee’s dismissal takes effect – is it the day the decision to dismiss is first communicated to the employee, or, if the dismissal is appealed, the day that the appeal process concludes and the decision to dismiss is confirmed to the employee.

Under the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977 an employee who alleges that they have been unfairly dismissed has six months (which can be extended to 12 months in certain circumstances) to bring their complaint against their former employer. In the case at hand, the complaint was lodged more than six months following the date the complainant was originally advised that she was dismissed but within six months of the date of the outcome of her appeal. The complainant argued that the internal appeal acted as a stay on her dismissal.

The High Court agreed with the decision of the Employment Appeals Tribunal in this case, stating that because the employee’s terms of employment were silent on the implications and effectiveness of the notice of dismissal once issued, the employee was entitled to believe that her dismissal was stayed pending the outcome of an appeal and therefore her complaint under the Unfair Dismissal Act was not out of time. It is a warning to employers to ensure that the effect of a dismissal notice is clear in any contract or policies and procedures.

To read the judgment of the High Court please click here.