Claim for payment of notice

10 May 2016

Does an employee's willingness to negotiate a termination package prevent a claim of constructive dismissal?

No, held the High Court in Gibbs v Leeds United Football Club.

The Claimant was the assistant manager at Leeds United. The manager he worked with was sacked. The Claimant was asked if he was interested in becoming head coach but he declined. He expected to be dismissed although he was asked to continue in his role whilst discussions were held about a consensual departure.

The Claimant was not expected to work with the new manager. He was excluded from any meaningful part in the training of the first team, which was part of his normal duties, and he was not invited to pre-season training. Instead, he was told by email that he was to have no contact with the first team and he would work with the youth academy. He resigned in response.

The High Court held that it was not a breach of contract on his part to initiate a discussion about consensual termination. The fact that he had said that he was prepared to leave if suitable terms were agreed was beside the point. He had remained ready and willing to fulfil his duties. The email was repudiatory, since it led to a plain loss of status, and he had resigned in response to that and was therefore entitled to succeed in his claim for notice pay.

With thanks to Daniel Barnett’s employment law bulletin which provided the details of this case.