A recent tribunal case provides a useful reminder that, when someone is fired, it counts from the moment they are told by their boss. Usually, this happens in a meeting or a letter that clearly says that employment is being terminated. But what if someone just gets a P45 in the post instead?
This happened to the claimant in the case of Daniel v GE Spence & Sons. The claimant was off sick with a bad back after getting hurt at work. He was talking with his boss about possibly coming back to work and getting a doctor’s note to show what he could do. Whilst these discussions were ongoing, he received his P45 in the post. The respondent said it was a mistake but the tribunal said getting the P45 was clear enough—it meant he was dismissed. The court also said that once the P45 was received, the respondent couldn’t take it back unless the claimant agreed, even if it was a mistake. In the end, the claimant got over £26,000 because he was unfairly dismissed.
This case reminds employers to be really careful when handling employee matters, especially paperwork. Any letters or forms should only be sent when the employer is sure of their decision. And if a business has someone else handle their payroll (like in this case), they should only instruct them to send important forms like the P45 after they’ve made sure the employee is really being let go.
Find out how we can help. Our partner, Jon Dunkley, heads the Wollens specialist Employment Department. Contact him today for an informal chat, without obligation on 01271 342268 or via email at [email protected].