The Employment Relations Authority has recently decided that an employee’s personal grievance claim of unjustified dismissal was made within the 90-day timeframe. This decision required the interpretation of a notice period.

The employee experienced an incident at work which caused PTSD. As a result the employee had to take prolonged time off of work. A programme for the employee’s return to work was discussed, but was eventually discarded in favour of the employee undergoing a “fitness to work” assessment.

The employer terminated the employee after the assessment. The employee was given a two-week written notice on 28 July and their employment ended on 10 August. The employee was unhappy with the employer’s process for termination and raised a personal grievance by way of email on 8 November.

The Authority had to determine whether the employee raised their personal grievance within the 90-day time frame. To determine this, the Authority had to determine when the employment relationship officially ended.

The employee argued that two weeks from 28 July was actually 11 August, as the two week notice does not include the day that the written notice is given to the employee. The employer argued that their email stated that the two week notice period began from the day the email was sent.

The Authority decided that the employment agreement did not stipulate that the notice period began from the day that notice is given. Further, it is not up to the employer to shorten a notice period without agreement from the employee.

The Authority concluded that the normal interpretation for notice periods is that the period begins the day after notice is given. Therefore, the employment relationship officially ended on 11 August, not 10 August, and so the personal grievance was raised within the necessary time frame.

The employer also argued that the employee’s email did not sufficiently raise the personal grievance because it did not specify the grounds of the complaint, nor the remedies being sought. However, the Authority decided that the employee’s email clearly referenced the employer’s process of dismissal being the issue of concern, and that she sought mediation to solve the issue.

The Authority decided that the employee had sufficiently raised a personal grievance of unjustified dismissal within the necessary time frame. The employee’s personal grievance is now waiting to be heard by the Authority.

It is important to be aware of the terms of your employment agreement. If you are confused about your agreement, it pays to seek advice from a professional with experience in the area


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Alan Knowsley and Hunter Flanagan-Connors