Does giving notice amount to an unambiguous act of resignation?

Napthens - November 2nd 2018

In the case of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust v Levy, Mrs Levy worked as an Administrative Assistant within the Records Department since March 2006.

However, she experienced difficulties in her role and had an altercation with another member of staff. As a result, she applied for a role within the Radiology Department in the same trust which was offered to her on a conditional basis. Upon receipt of the conditional offer, from the Radiology Department, she handed in a letter to the Records Department stating “Please accept one month’s notice from the above date”.

As a result of her sick leave record she failed the pre-appointment checks for the Radiology Department role and the offer was subsequently withdrawn. Consequently, she sought to retract her “notice of resignation” given to the Records Department. This was rejected by the Records Department who confirmed her employment would terminate at the end of her notice period. As a result Mrs Levy brought a claim for unfair dismissal.

Whilst giving “notice” in an employment context is pretty clear and generally signifies an unambiguous notice to terminate their employment, consideration should be given to the purpose behind the notice. In this scenario, the Employment Appeal Tribunal found that the “notice” referred to her departure from the Records Department and the joining the Radiology Department but did not directly refer to an end to her employment.

Therefore, employers should pay particular attention to this decision, especially where you have employees who apply for another role within the group structure, whether it’s moving to another department or place of work. In such a scenario you should ensure that both parties are in agreement as to the specifics of their notice and whether it’s conditional on them passing any pre-employment checks, when transferring into another department of the same organisation.