The three months (minus a day) time frame for bringing the majority of employment related claims starts running from the effective date of termination (“EDT”).  Clearly establishing this date is therefore crucial.

The EAT has considered another case where the EDT is uncertain due to ambiguous wording in a dismissal letter.  In the case of Mr R Wedgewood v Minstergate Hull Ltd the dismissal letter, dated 26 November 2008, stated ‘I write to confirm that you can be released today and will still be paid up to and including your notice period dated Monday 1st December 2008′. Mr Wedgewood presented his Tribunal claim on 28 February 2009, three days late if the EDT was 26 November.  The Employment Tribunal found the EDT to be 26 November.

On appeal, Mr Wedgewood  contended his EDT was 1 December 2008.  He relied on section 97 of the Employment Rights Act which states that ‘in relation to an employee whose contract of employment is terminated by notice, whether given by his employer or by the employee, [the EDT[ means the date on which the notice expires’.

The EAT considered the case of Lees v Greaves (Lees) Limited [1974] which provided that simply absolving an employee from working his period of notice does not alter the EDT.

It considered the cases of Palfry v Transco Plc [2004] and TBA Industrial Products Limited v Moreland [1982] which provided that the EDT could be varied by the parties expressly agreeing to this.

The EAT determined that the letter did not amount to an agreement to change the EDT, just an agreement to release the employee from working, and therefore the EDT was 1 December 2008 and the claim was presented in time.

The moral of this tale is employers need to be very careful about wording dismissal letters to be crystal clear as to when the EDT is, particularly where employees are ‘released early’ but paid in respect of their notice period.