Termination of Contract of Employment: Effect of Conditional Resignation

It is sometimes unclear when a contract of employment has come to an end.

In the recent case of Heaven v Whitbread Group plc, the claimant wrote to his employer on 29 August: 'I tender my resignation... [but] this is dependent on two factors... [that I get] one month's money and a glowing reference'.

On 31 August, the employer wrote back, saying, in effect, that it could not accept a conditional resignation and it was for the claimant to decide whether he wished to stay on or go.

On 3 September, the claimant emailed back that he had 'no alternative but to resign' and confirmed that his resignation was effective from 29 August.

Because a conditional resignation is ineffective to terminate a contract of employment, the EAT confirmed that the contract was in fact terminated on 3 September, despite what the claimant himself said in his resignation letter.

Points to Note –

The 'effective date of termination' matters because unfair dismissal claims must be brought within three months of that date. The definition is given in the Employment...

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