What you need to do about recent changes to collective redundancies law

Earlier this month, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) delivered its written judgment in the Woolworths collective redundancies case. The written judgment confirms the verbal decision and effectively turns on its head employers’ and their advisers’ understanding of this area of law. The prevailing view, held for more than 20 years, was that the duty to inform and consult (under section 188 of the Trade Unions and Labour Relations [Consolidation] Act 1992) only arises where an employer proposes to dismiss 20 or more employees at one establishment. As a result, employers focused on redundancy numbers per site, not on a multi-site, business-wide basis.

The EAT’s decision — to ignore the words ‘at one establishment’ in section 188 — means that information and consultation duties arise once the threshold of 20 proposed redundancies is met across the business. Although the decision may be open to a challenge, it would be imprudent to underestimate the impact of this decision…

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