When are the collective redundancy consultation requirements triggered? This has been the question we have all been wondering since the law was turned upside down two years ago by the Woolworths case.
The European Court has now given their decision on the matter, holding that collective consultation is triggered only when numbers reach 20 or more redundancies at the physical site or location where an employee carries out their work (the court has used the phrase “assigned”).
To remind you about the background, UK law requires an employer to consult collectively when it proposes to make 20 or more redundancies at one establishment within a 90-day period. Before the Woolworths case, businesses took the approach that they were only required to collectively consult if 20 or more employees were at risk of redundancy within one specific site or branch, making it less common for collective consultation requirements to be triggered.
The Woolworths case changed all that when the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) held that even employees working in Woolworths stores (in administration at the time) employing fewer than 20 employees, had the right to be consulted collectively, because the overall number of redundancies at other stores should have been taken into account. All employees were therefore entitled to be compensated for a failure to consult collectively, not just those employees at stores with 20 or more staff.