McMaster v Manchester Airport Plc: EAT 27 Oct 1997

The claimant was summarily dismissed by letter while on sickness leave. The letter arrived 9 November 1995, but he was on a day trip to France. He read the letter on return the day after. His unfair dismissal complaint was received by the industrial tribunal on 9 February 1996. Accordingly, if the effective date of termination of his employment was 9 November when the letter arrived at his home, his complaint was presented one day out of time. If his employment did not effectively terminate until the following day when he read the letter, his complaint was in time.
Held: The effective date of termination of a contract of employment could not be earlier than the date on which an employee received knowledge that he was being dismissed. The doctrine of constructive or presumed knowledge had no place in questions as to whether a dismissal had been communicated, save only in the evidential sense that an industrial tribunal would be likely to assume that letters usually arrive in the normal course of post and that people are to be taken, normally, as opening their letters promptly after they have arrived. Notices terminating employment were deemed to be served on the day they were actually received. In the absence of wilful shutting of eyes to a letter, notions of when notices were constructively served have no place in employment law.
Morison J P
Gazette 13-May-1998, [1997] UKEAT 149 – 97 – 2710, [1998] IRLR 112, 593 IRLB 17
England and Wales
FollowedBrown v Southall and Knight EAT 1980
The employee had gone on holiday at the time when the letter of dismissal arrived at his home and he did not actually see it until he had returned from his holiday.
Held: The ‘effective date of termination’ is a statutory concept which focuses . .

Cited by:
CitedGisda Cyf v Barratt CA 2-Jul-2009
The employer wrote to the employee on 29 November 2006 informing her of her dismissal, the letter arrived on the 30th, and she read it on the 4th of December. The employer appealed against a finding that the effective date of dismissal was the date . .
Emphatically ApprovedGisda Cyf v Barratt SC 13-Oct-2010
The parties disputed the effective date of termination of the claimant’s employment. Was it the date on which the letter notifying her was sent, or was it on the day she received it. She had been dimissed without notice, and the date was the date on . .
CitedNewcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v Haywood SC 25-Apr-2018
Notice of dismissal begins when received by worker
The court was asked: ‘If an employee is dismissed on written notice posted to his home address, when does the notice period begin to run? Is it when the letter would have been delivered in the ordinary course of post? Or when it was in fact . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 19 July 2021; Ref: scu.83573