The need for the innocent parties to an employment contract breach to “accept” the breach by the defaulting party to bring it to an end was highlighted again last month in Sunrise Brokers LLP v Rodgers.
In this case an employee who wanted to go to a competitor purported to resign by walking out without giving notice. In doing so, or rather attempting to do so, he committed a fundamental breach of contract. His employer did not “accept” this breach and so, as a matter of law, the employee remained employed and bound by the contract. The employee declined to work out his notice. The employer applied to the court for a declaration that the employee was still employed by it and for an injunction requiring him to observe the terms of his contract of employment. He could not be compelled to work as to do so would be tantamount to enforcing slavery but, equally, he was not entitled to be paid any salary whilst still employed but not ready and willing to work.