Dismissal: when does notice start to run?

In Wang v University of Keele, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has confirmed that, unless a contract provides otherwise, contractual notice whether verbal or written begins on the day after notice is given; previously this was only established for oral notice.

Mr Wang was given three months’ notice of his dismissal in a letter emailed and read on 3 November. He lodged a tribunal claim for unfair dismissal on 2 May. His claim was originally dismissed as being as a day out of time the notice being calculated as running from 3 November to 2 February, so an effective date of termination of 2 February, and then a deadline of three months from then to bring the claim.

The EAT decided that notice ran from the day after it was served, so in this case 4 November, with dismissal taking effect on 3 February, so the claim was in time. The fact that Wang was only paid until 2 February was irrelevant. The EAT also said that if the body giving the notice made the dismissal date ambiguous, the notice should be construed in favour of the recipient. It also observed (without recommending) that notice could be given by text, email or even instant messaging.

TUPE: protection applies even if a transferee has not yet been identified

In Spaceright Europe v Baillavoine, the claimant was the CEO of a business Ultralon Holdings which was up for sale. No transferee had been identified when Mr Baillavoine was dismissed, on grounds of redundancy, as it was thought that it was too expensive for a purchaser to have an incumbent CEO, on a salary of £120,000.

The employment tribunal decided that the dismissal was connected to the proposed transfer and was therefore unfair. On appeal, the EAT also considered whether there was an economic, technical, or organisational (ETO) reason for the dismissal, which entailed changes in the workforce and which could mean the dismissal was not automatically unfair. But it decided that there was a continuing need for the role and so there could not be an ETO defence.

So, it is not necessary for the transferrer to have identified a specific transferee in order for a dismissal to be automatically unfair under TUPE.