The ET case of Sault v Empire Amusements & Cheeky Monkey’s Soft Play Centre serves as a salutary reminder to employers of the need to clearly communicate an employee’s dismissal and take steps to prove they’ve done so.
The Claimant, Ms Sault was absent from work because of ill health and had not been in touch with her employer for several weeks because she was unwell. The Respondent claimed they hand delivered a letter to the Claimant’s home address explaining that if they did not hear from her within seven days, they would end her employment. After receiving no response, they said a further letter was hand delivered on 15 March 2020 telling the Claimant that her employment had been summarily terminated.
On 23 March 2020 the Claimant sent in a fit note. The Respondent acknowledged receipt and wrote to the Claimant explaining that they couldn’t pay SSP. However, they did not tick the box on the SSP form that would indicate that this was because she was no longer their employee.
The Claimant asserted that she never received the letters sent prior to 23 March 2020 and was unaware of her dismissal until 4 July 2020 when she returned to work and was told by a manager that she had been replaced following her dismissal.
Considering all the evidence the Employment Judge decided that the effective date of termination was 4 July 2020. The Respondent had no evidence that their letters had been delivered, and so the onus was on them to prove that their letters had been received – something which they failed to do.
The moral of this story is always use recorded delivery, or email and ask for read receipts, but whatever you do, don’t hand deliver unless you’re going to get proof of actually having done this!