Date employee's resignation took effect
The issue in the next case was whether a claim for constructive unfair dismissal was commenced in time which depended on the effect of a letter of resignation dated 29 June 2012.
The background was that, when the employer did not uphold her grievance, the Claimant wrote to the employer on 29 June 2012 saying 'there has been a fundamental breach of my employment contract by my employer and I have no alternative but to resign my position'.
The employer wrote to the Claimant saying that it believed that she was acting hastily and offered her 5 days to review her decision to resign. When the offer was not taken up, the employer wrote to the Claimant to say that it had no alternative but to accept her resignation and to inform her that she was required to give 4 weeks’ notice meaning that her last working day would be 27 July 2012.
The Claimant brought an unfair dismissal claim which was more than 3 months after the date of 29 June but within 3 months of 27 July. The ET accepted her argument that her employment terminated on 27 July and not 29 June so the claim was in time. The ET ruled that the letter of 29 June 2012 was intended to start the process of the Claimant's resignation rather than start and end it and the letter led to agreement between the parties that the Claimant's employment should end on 27 July 2012.
The EAT allowed the employer’s appeal.
The EAT ruled that the words “I have no alternative but to resign my position” in the Claimant’s letter of 29 June 2012 had the same meaning as "I am resigning now”. The letter of 29 June was therefore a letter of immediate resignation and was unambiguous and should have led the Employment Judge to only one conclusion, namely that the resignation was with immediate effect.
There was no question of the Claimant taking a decision in the heat of the moment or of being pressurised into her decision by the employer. The letter of 29 June 2012 was drafted by the Claimant’s solicitor or, at the very least, she wrote it having taken legal advice.
Neither the employer’s letter stating that the Claimant was required to give four weeks' notice and, therefore, her last working day would be 27 July 2012 nor the fact that the Claimant was paid for that period, had any legal effect. As a matter of law, the Claimant resigned on 29 June 2012.
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