The Court of Appeal has handed down its judgment in Charles Sandu v Jan De Rijk Transport Limited. Mr Sandu was called to a meeting, at which he was told “Your contract, we are going to finish it”. The rest of the meeting was spent discussing severance terms, which were agreed and Mr Sandu resigned. However, where the employer slipped up was in not getting Mr Sandu to sign a Compromise Agreement as Mr Sandu went on to present a complaint of Unfair Dismissal to an Employment Tribunal.

The Employment Tribunal and the EAT said that he had resigned and therefore could not claim unfair dismissal. The Court of Appeal overuled these decisions and held that he had been dismissed. The Court of Appeal indicated their conclusion may have been different had the employee been given more time to consider the matter and to take legal advice.

The lessons to be learned here are firstly, do not tell the employee he is going to be dismissed. Instead tell the employee that you have an issue (and explain whatever that issue is) and tell him you will either go through a procedure to address that issue, or alternatively, he can choose to part company on amicable terms with a severence package. Then give the employee a chance to consider the matter and seek advice if he wishes before resigning (or ideally sending him off with a compromise agreement) – don’t call him to a surprise meeting, tell him he is to be dismissed and get him to resign all in the same meeting!