Employee resignations not always straightforward

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has held that an employee who gave notice anticipating an internal transfer had not resigned.

The employee, in this case, applied for a role in another department within the hospital in which she worked.  She was offered the role, subject to pre-engagement checks.

Is notice of intention to leave always a bona fide resignation?

Following an incident with another colleague, she handed a letter to the Operations Manager that stated: “Please accept one month’s notice from the above date”. He responded by letter on the same day headed “notice of resignation” in which he accepted her resignation.

She was subsequently told that the offer of the role in the other department was being withdrawn due to her absence record. After taking legal advice HR advised the Operations Manager that there was no obligation to accept a retraction of a resignation. He decided not to allow her to retract her resignation and wrote to her advising of the decision.

Dismissal or resignation?

The employee then brought a claim for unfair dismissal. The employer argued that she had not been dismissed but had resigned. The tribunal held that she had been dismissed.

Dismissing a subsequent appeal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal said that the tribunal had been entitled to find that the reference to giving notice was related to her role in the department in which she worked and not a resignation from the Hospital’s employment. Viewed objectively, this was what the employer had reasonably understood when it received her letter. It went on to say that the tribunal had been entitled to find that that her letter was ambiguous.

Case reference: East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust v Levy

fired office worker

office worker packing his belongings after being fired,