Wednesday 15 January 2014

Dismissal: Whether Teacher Dismissed

Thanks to Sarah Fitzpatrick of Collingwood Legal for preparing this case summary
Can a letter from a governing body of a community school confirming that a decision had been taken to dismiss have the effect of giving notice to terminate the employment of a teacher employed at that school?

No, held the EAT in Birmingham City Council v Emery.

There is detailed legislation governing community schools set out in the Education Act 2002 and subsequent secondary legislation. In essence, while the governing body of the school decides who to appoint and dismiss, those decisions must be given effect by the local authority. Accordingly, save for exceptions not relevant to this case, the local authority is deemed to be the employer of a teacher at a community school.

Ms Emery was employed as a teacher at Benson Community School. She was dismissed due to lengthy absences on account of ill health. The local authority and governing body argued that Ms Emery was given valid notice of dismissal by a letter from the governing body to Ms Emery which confirmed that a decision had been made to dismiss her and the local authority would serve notice to terminate her contract. The next day the local authority sent her a letter which served notice to terminate her contract of employment.

The EAT upheld the tribunal's decision that valid notice had not been given until Ms Emery received the letter from the local authority.

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