When should the employer begin collective redundancy consultation with employees?

Under s.188(1) of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, the obligation to consult collectively arises when the employer is proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within a period of 90 days or less. (In Usdaw and another v WW Realisation 1 Ltd (in liquidation) and others [2015] IRLR 577 ECJ, the European Court of Justice confirmed that "establishment" means the entity to which the employees are assigned to carry out their duties, not the employer's organisation as a whole.)

If there are 100 or more affected employees at the same establishment, the consultation must commence at least 45 days before the first dismissal is to take effect. If 20 or more employees are affected, consultation must commence at least 30 days before the first dismissal. No obligation to consult collectively arises where 19 or fewer employees are affected.

The collective consultation should be completed before the employer serves any notices of termination of employment.

The relevant definition of redundancy for the purpose of collective consultation is a "dismissal for a reason not related to the individual concerned". This includes the situation where an employer proposes to dismiss and re-engage employees who do not agree to a proposed variation of their contract.