Springhouse Solicitors

Is self-dismissal possible?

In January 2005, lorry driver Mr Zulhayir had a serious accident at work which left him unable to do his job. In June 2006, his employer, J J Food Services Limited, stopped receiving sick notes. They wrote to him saying that if they had not heard from him by 5 July 2006 they would conclude “that you no longer wish to work for us and that you terminated your employment by your own volition”.

In July 2009, Mr Zulhayir lodged an Employment Tribunal claim for unfair dismissal. Naturally JJFS contended that this was out of the three month limitation period, which would have expired in October 2006.

In the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s view, the employer’s letter did not terminate the employment.

The net result in this case was that the employee was able to bring his unfair dismissal claim nearly three years after this letter was sent.

Employers are always well advised to make sure that any dismissal is communicated to the employee in person, and is absolutely clear about what is happening, and when.