In the June 2018 EAT case of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust v Levy, a tribunal’s decision as to whether or not Ms Levy had been dismissed by her employer was upheld.
The facts of the case were that Ms Levy, anticipating that she would be changing jobs internally with the employer, gave notice to her existing manager as follows: “Please accept one month’s notice from the above date“. He responded by letter on the same day. The letter was headed “notice of resignation” and went on to say that the manager accepted Ms Levy’s resignation and noted that her last day in the records department would be 8 July 2016. He thanked her for her contribution and wished her success with her future employment.
Unfortunately, the offer to transfer to a new internal job was withdrawn due to Ms Levy’s absence record. HR advised her that it was at her manager’s discretion whether or not to accept her withdrawal of resignation and he refused.
The EAT upheld the tribunal’s decision that Ms Levy’s written notice was not a resignation from employment but was notice of an internal change of jobs. The employer tried to argue that the words used by Ms Levy had been clear and unambiguous but the EAT disagreed and stated that, in any event, the context in which they had been used meant that there were “special circumstances” which required them to be construed differently and, as such, Ms Levy was able to establish that she had been dismissed.
What employers should take from this decision:
- That they should be very clear as to how valid notice to terminate employment should be communicated;
- That details about the giving of notice should be set out clearly in the contracts of employment;
- That managers are made aware that not all notice can be treated as valid notice;
- That internal transfers should be communicated to departments by HR and not the employee him/herself.