The Appeal Tribunal has handed down judgment in a case that may shock some employers.
An employee handed in her notice within the admin department of an NHS Trust because she had been offered a job elsewhere in the Trust. The notice said “Please accept one months notice from the above date”.
The employee also later described her letter as “Notice of resignation”.
That all seems clear.
However, her new job offer was withdrawn and she tried to withdraw her notice.
The law is fairly clear on this point, if UNAMBIGUOUS notice is given, the employer is not under any duty to allow that to be withdrawn later. In this case, the employer did not allow the notice to be withdrawn and the lady claimed unfair dismissal.
The Appeal Tribunal has pointed out that to be effective, notice must be unambiguous. In this case, the lady was resigning from that department to take another job in another department for the same employer. The Tribunal ruled that whether the notice meant resign from the Trust, or notice to move to a new role was not clear, and therefore it was ambiguous.
An important point for employers to note is that the Tribunal pointed out that events after notice was given, (such as the lady later referring to her letter as “notice of resignation”) do not determine the matter. It’s the original notification that counts.
The lesson is to seek clarity if you are in any doubt about whether an employee intended to give notice of resignation, and seek it straight away, and in writing.