Newsflash: Collective consultation – an update

redundancy - group of skittles one of which has fallenWhat do we already know?

In our July 2013 Newsflash Important changes to collective consultation we told you about the EAT decision in USDAW v Woolworths. We let you know that, controversially, the EAT decided that employers should consult collectively whenever planned redundancies, or changes to terms and conditions add up to 20+ across the whole of the UK business.

One year ago we updated you in our February 2014 Newsflash Collective Consultation – an update that the Court of Appeal had referred the case to the CJEU (formerly known as the ECJ).

What’s new?

An Advocate General of the ECJ (Advocate General Wahl) has given his Opinion on the issues in the above case.

The good news for employers is that Advocate General Wahl’s opinion is that collective consultation is not triggered whenever planned redundancies, or changes to terms and conditions add up to 20+ across the whole of the UK business. The Advocate General’s opinion is that the EU law on this point (the Collective Redundancies Directive) means that collective consultation is only triggered whenever planned redundancies, or changes to terms and conditions, add up to 20+ at one site.

Comment:

This is good news! If this opinion is followed by the ECJ, it means that collective consultation will be required less frequently with less administrative headaches. However, Advocate General’s opinions are not binding and we must still await the ECJ’s judgment on this due later this year. Although the ECJ often follows the AG’s Opinion, this is not always the case.

This means that the current state of uncertainty will remain for the time being. We will update you further on this Opinion and its implications in our February Newsletter, so watch this space.