Unfair Dismissal Case
Time limits and the effective date of termination.
Question: Did the Tribunal err when finding that the Claimant had presented his unfair dismissal claim out of time?
Answer: No, held the EAT in the case of Meaker v Cyxtera Technology UK Ltd  EAT 17
The Claimant suffered a back injury resulting in an extended period of time off work. On 5 February the Respondent sent the Claimant a letter which he received on 7 February. The letter was headed “without prejudice” and stated that it had been agreed that there would be a mutual termination of employment with the Claimant’s last day of employment being 7 February. The letter offered an ex gratia payment, conditional on the Claimant signing an enclosed draft settlement agreement.
The Tribunal found that the letter of 5 February was a dismissal letter and that the effective date of termination was 7 February 2020. It was on this basis that the Claimant’s subsequent claim of unfair dismissal was found to have been presented out of time.
The Claimant appealed, arguing that the February letter was not capable of giving rise to an effective date of termination on 7 February.
The EAT disagreed and dismissed the appeal finding that, on the assumption that the Tribunal was correct that the 5 February 2020 letter was a termination letter, even if it was a repudiatory breach that was not accepted by the Claimant. The effective date of termination for the purposes of an unfair dismissal claim was the date of receipt of that letter.
The EAT also found the Tribunal had not erred in construing the letter of 5 February as a dismissal letter, notwithstanding that the opening paragraphs referred to what was said to have been an agreement that there would be a mutual termination, which agreement had not in fact been reached, and that the letter was headed “without prejudice”.
The Tribunal properly concluded that the letter unambiguously communicated that the Respondent had decided to proceed to unilaterally terminate the employment with effect on 7 February 2020, and that only the offer of an ex gratia payment was conditional upon the Claimant signing a settlement agreement.
This blog first appeared in the Daniel Barnett case update