24 March, 2017
The requirement to give notice is an important part of an employment contract and is normally set out in an express term. If a contract is silent on when notice is deemed to be given, there is an implied term for a party to provide reasonable notice. Any failure to provide the required notice is likely to constitute a breach of contract.
Statue law imposes an obligation on both an employer and an employee to give notice of termination of any employment contract and this is known as the statutory minimum period. Where the contractual period of notice is greater than that of the statutory minimum, the contractual period will take precedent.
The Recent case law of Newcastle Upon Tyne NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood has highlighted the potential issue of identifying when the notice is deemed to be served on the other party. In April 2011 Ms Haywood was informed that she was at risk of redundancy. It is important to note that Ms Haywood was approaching her 50th birthday on 20th July 2011 and this would impact upon the amount she would be entitled to in terms of her pension.
It was agreed that she was entitled to 12 weeks' notice, however her contract was silent on the matter of how to actual give notice to terminate her contract. Ms Haywood's employer sent her notice of termination via both the post and email on 20th April. Ms Haywood was on holiday between 19th April and 27th April and it was therefore ruled that she received her notice on 27th April upon her return, as this is when she was deemed to have read the notice. Importantly, by determining the date of notice as 27th April this took Ms Haywood's termination date over the 20th July and therefore she would be 50 years old by the time her contract came to an end.
As a result of this decision, it is advantageous to identify within an employment contract how notice is deemed to have been given and furthermore how age can affect an individual's redundancy entitlement.