The see-saw world of collective redundancies

Government-sponsored changes in April that tipped the balance in favour of employers have been followed by an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision in late May which is highly favourable to unions and the employees they represent.

On 6 April, the minimum consultation period for the largest-scale redundancies (involving 100 or more employees over a 90-day period) was reduced from 90 to 45 days. In addition, further amendments to the legislation made it clear that fixed-term employees whose contracts expired at the end of their term during the relevant period did not count as redundancies for these purposes.

In late May, the EAT heard two appeals involving redundancies across a national retail operation; the case involving the collapse of the Woolworths chain of shops is the better known. The employment tribunal had denied protective awards to employees based at shops with fewer than 20 employees. On appeal the EAT decided that, despite the express wording of the legislation, these employees should receive an award as well as employees in the larger establishments. The written decision was finally published in early July…

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