In Cockram v Air Products Limited UKEAT/0038/14, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that an employee had lost the right to claim constructive dismissal because he had given his employer a much longer notice period than he was contractually required to give.
Mr Cockram, a business director for Air Product Limited (APL), raised a grievance following an altercation with his manager. APL rejected the grievance, as well as Mr Cockram's subsequent appeal. Mr Cockram felt that this amounted to a fundamental breach of the implied term of trust and confidence by APL, and resigned giving APL 7 months' notice (instead of the 3 month notice period required under his employment contract) due to personal financial reasons. At the end of the 7 month notice period, he brought a claim for constructive dismissal. The EAT held that, whilst UK law allowed an employee to resign with or without notice in response to a fundamental breach of contract, the issue of whether an employee had been constructively dismissed was a factually sensitive question, and an employee's conduct post-resignation could be taken into account. The EAT found that, by giving APL a much longer notice period than he was contractually required to give, Mr Cockram had affirmed the contract - in other words, he had continued to work as though APL had not committed a fundamental breach - and, as such, he had lost the right to claim constructive dismissal.
This decision will be welcomed by employers, and it sheds light on how Employment Tribunals approach claims of constructive dismissal in the unusual situation when an employee continues to work under notice following their resignation.