Collective redundancies

Stephen SimpsonEditor's message: The status quo has been restored after a period of uncertainly in UK redundancy laws over whether employers have to consult collectively when they are proposing 20 or more redundancies across their whole organisation, or only when proposing 20 or more redundancies "in one establishment".

The controversial issue went to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) after the UK Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in the Woolworths case questioned when collective redundancy consultation obligations are triggered.

The EAT concluded that an employer that is proposing 20 or more redundancies across the whole organisation within a period of 90 days has collective consultation obligations.

To the relief of employers making large-scale redundancies, the ECJ effectively overturned the EAT decision. This means that an employer's collective redundancy consultation obligations are triggered only when it is proposing 20 or more redundancies "at one establishment" within a period of 90 days.

The ECJ followed the same line in its subsequent decisions in similar references from Northern Ireland and Spain.

Stephen Simpson, principal employment law editor

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