Effective date of termination?
Meaker v Cyxtera Technology UK Ltd
The recent case of Meaker v Cyxtera Technology UK Ltd found that an employer’s ‘without prejudice’ letter which sought to communicate a mutually agreed termination, where no such agreement had been made, amounted to an effective termination letter.
Mr Meaker was employed by Cyxtera in a heavy manual role. He was off work for an extended period after suffering back injuries in 2016 and 2018. In 2019, it was agreed between Mr Meaker and his employer that the limitations on his ability to carry out his role were likely to be permanent.
On 7 January 2020, Cyxtera informed Mr Meaker that they were considering terminating his employment and mentioned the possibility of offering a settlement agreement. After having a conversation with his HR manager on 20 January 2020, Mr Meaker was under the impression that further enquiries would be made about alternative employment within the company.
On 5 February 2020, Cyxtera sent Mr Meaker a without prejudice letter which stated the following:
- His employment would terminate by mutual agreement by reason of his capability
- His last day of employment would be 7 February 2020
- He would receive payment in lieu of ten weeks’ notice and payment for untaken holiday
On 7 February Mr Meaker wrote to the employer rejecting the settlement offer.
The court ruled that the ‘without prejudice’ letter amounted to an effective termination letter. The letter was dated 5 February 2020 and the Tribunal ruled that the date of termination was 7 February 2020, being the date it was received by Mr Meaker.
This case highlights the importance of ensuring that dismissal letters are drafted in clear and unambiguous terms. In this particular case Cyxtera benefitted from the court’s decision on the effective date of termination, because it meant that Mr Meaker was not able to bring a potentially successful unfair dismissal claim. However, on a different set of facts the court’s decision could have an unfavourable impact on the employer.
Get in touch
If you have any queries relating to this update, or require any advice on issues you may be facing in the employment sector, please contact Jon Taylor.
This article was prepared by Noemi Stepan-Sarkissian.