East Kent NHS Foundation Trust v Levy

Our second case concerns resignation and asks:

Does handing in your notice amount to an unambiguous act of resignation?

Ms Levy, the Claimant, was an Administrative Assistant at Kent NHS, the Respondent. She worked in the admin department but received an offer to work in the Respondent’s radiology department. The Claimant handed in her notice with the admin department but the offer in the radiology department was subsequently withdrawn.

The Claimant asked to rescind her service of the notice, referring to it as a resignation, but the Respondent rejected this. Her employment was terminated upon expiry of her notice period.  The Claimant initiated ET proceedings for unfair dismissal.

The ET allowed the claim. It held the serving of notice was ambiguous and not intended to terminate employment, merely transfer from one department to another. When this offer was withdrawn, it was clear the Claimant would not seek to terminate her employment with the records department. The Respondent would have understood this and thus there was no resignation.

The Respondent appealed citing the Claimant using the word resignation when trying to withdraw her notice. The EAT dismissed the appeal, it held the word resignation in this context was not an unambiguous act of resignation when paired with the previous offer/withdrawal of employment.

The takeaway point:

Not necessarily. In this circumstance handing in the notice to move between departments was not a unilateral act to terminate employment. Whether this would extend from inter-employee job offers to just job offers is unknown but it is something to bear in mind if an employer does try to retract a resignation.