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EAT Holds That Notice Letter Does Not Automatically Constitute Resignation

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held in the case of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust v Levy (2018) that a notice letter does not automatically constitute resignation.

East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust v Levy (2018)

Mrs Levy had been offered a new job within the radiology department, and therefore provided notice in relation to her existing job with the same organisation, a job which she had held since 2006. The Trusts operational manager then treated the letter as a letter of resignation, and the job offer from the radiology department was subsequently withdrawn. Mrs Levy then attempted to retract her notice, but this was blocked by the operational manager. Mrs Levy then brought a claim for unfair dismissal, and she was successful at first instance. The Tribunal held that it was reasonable to conclude from the letter (which said: “Please accept one month’s notice from the above date“), that the letter was providing notice of Mrs Levy’s intention to accept the internal transfer, as opposed to notice of resignation.

Appeal To The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)

The East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust appealed the Tribunals decision to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT). However, Judge Jennifer Eady QC dismissed the appeal. She stated: “Given the particular circumstances of the case, I consider the ET reached a permissible conclusion on this point. The Claimant’s statement that she was giving notice could have referred to her giving notice of her departure from her position in Records, with a view to taking up the new role in Radiology, or it could have referred to her giving notice of resignation of her employment. As to that latter possibility, I am not sure the Respondent is right in its contention that generally the expression “giving notice” can only refer to resignation from employment. Even if I was wrong on this point, however, the ET went on to make the specific finding that there were special circumstances in this case such that it would be wrong to simply take the reference to “giving notice” at face value……Certainly, once it became apparent that the offer of a position in the Radiology Department had been withdrawn, and the claimant was seeking to withdraw her notice of departure from Records, the respondent’s position was that the claimant’s employment must come to an end. Given its findings of fact, however, I do not consider the ET erred in finding that this, in context, amounted to a dismissal and not simply the acceptance of a resignation.”

A Notice Letter Does Not Automatically Constitute Resignation

The EAT’s ruling that a notice letter does not automatically constitute resignation, means that it is imperative that when an employer receives a letter providing notice, that they seek clarification in relation to any ambiguities within the letter, and double check that it is the employees intention to resign, and the reasons behind their resignation should that be their intention.

Posted in General Employment Law, notice, resignation, Unfair Dismissal and tagged , , , .