In Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood  the Supreme Court has held by a majority that, in cases of dismissal on notice by post, and where there is no contractual provision governing when notice takes effect, the contractual notice only starts to run when the letter by which it is communicated comes to the attention of the employee and they have either read it or had a reasonable opportunity of doing so. The notice is not effective upon any earlier deemed service date or upon delivery to the employee’s address if they are not there.
If an employer is seeking to dismiss before a particular date for contractual purposes (perhaps, as in this case, in order to avoid liability for significant enhanced pension entitlements), employers should consider giving notice of dismissal in person, if possible, in order to ensure that the notice period has started to run and so expires before the date in question. Employers can also draft deeming provisions for their standard employment contracts.
If you would like further information or assistance please contact Jane Elgar.