• Helen Manson

When does notice of termination actually start?

Some businesses may assume the date at the top of the notice letter starts the clock ticking. Others may assume it's when they put the envelope in the 'out' tray for the post room to collect. Or maybe it's when it's pushed through the employee's letter box?

The point at which notice is effectively served can have significant financial implications, especially where pensions are concerned. For example, should an employee receive notice prior to a significant pension milestone, the business could be liable to a much greater pension payout.

Clarification around the timing and method of serving notice will become even more relevant as communication becomes increasingly carried out by email. Is notice effective from the point at which the email was sent? When it's opened? Which email address should be used?

These points - and more - need to be clarified in the contract of employment.

Businesses need to have a plan in place when attempting to communicate with individuals who may be on holiday - or claim to be unavailable - at the point at which notice is served. If a letter is sent by recorded delivery, returned to the post office and later collected by some one other than the desired recipient (perhaps a family member who is looking after their affairs during the absence), will this trigger the notice period?

May be not, but businesses need to ensure there are clear express terms included in their contracts of employment, detailing exactly how and when notice is considered to have been served.

If you would like us to have a look through your contracts to ensure you're covered, please give us a call or send an email to

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