When a Resignation is not a Resignation

9 Oct

The recent case of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust v Levy is a reminder to employers that not all resignations should be considered at face value.

Ms Levy was employed as an assistant administrator in the records department of the Trust and applied for a role in the radiology department, where she was offered the role subject to pre-engagement checks.

Ms Levy wrote a letter stating: “Please accept one month’s notice from the above date”. In response, her manager accepted her resignation and wished her success with her future employment.

However, Ms Levy was then informed that her offer of employment in the radiology department was being withdrawn due to her absence record. As a result, Ms Levy sought to retract her resignation from her role in the records department.

The Trust refused to accept her retraction and Ms Levy brought a claim for unfair dismissal. Ms Levy argued that she had been dismissed by the Trust and the Trust argued that she had resigned.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upheld the initial Employment Tribunal decision that Ms Levy’s letter had failed to identify the subject to which it (and her notice) was referring. The EAT found that, viewed objectively, the Trust would have reasonably understood Ms Levy’s letter to be her resignation from the records department alone and not her resignation from the Trust as a whole.

This case demonstrates once again that careful interpretation of key documents is essential in the context of HR issues.

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