Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co

UK 200 2013 position: 25

Employment law 2014 preview: redundancy

We begin 2014 with a fresh reference to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on whether UK law correctly implements the European Collective Redundancies Directive. Is the duty triggered where the employer is proposing to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees ‘at one establishment’ as provided in section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992? Or is it triggered when proposing to dismiss 20 or more employees across the employer’s business as a whole as held by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT)?

In a historic and controversial decision last year, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) in the combined cases of USDAW v Ethel Austin Ltd (in administration) and USDAW v WW Realisation 1 Ltd (commonly referred to as the Woolworths litigation) held that section 188 does not correctly implement the underlying EU Directive. The words ‘at one establishment’ are to be disregarded for the purposes of any collective redundancy involving 20 or more employees. This means that employers will have to consult employee representatives in many more situations…

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