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Case update (1): Collective consultation – an update

redundancyWhat do we already know?

In our recent Newsflash Important changes to collective consultation we let you know that employers must now consult collectively whenever the planned redundancies or changes to terms and conditions add up to 20+ across the whole of the UK business, according to the decision of the EAT in USDAW v Woolworths.

On the other hand, we also commented that this judgment sits very badly with the well-established body of case law on this subject, so it is quite possible that it might be overturned in the Court of Appeal (if appealed) or contradicted by another EAT judgment in a future case.

What’s new?

The further news is that a Northern Ireland Industrial Tribunal (“IT”) has been required to decide issues similar to the above case. However, the IT has instead decided to refer the same question to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for a determinative judgment on the point.

It is likely to be some time before the CJEU rules on the matter, but its decision should provide definite guidance on whether planned redundancies add up to 20+ for the purposes of collective redundancy consultation once and for all. We will then know whether the EAT approach in the Woolworths judgment was right.

In the meantime however, the Woolworths judgment remains the law and it should be followed.

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