30 April 2015

Collective consultation - the Woolworths csae

The European Court of Justice has today issued its judgment in the case of USDAW and B Wilson v VW Realisation 1 Ltd, Ethel Austin Ltd and Secretary of State for BIS (commonly known as the 'Woolworths case').
Agreeing with the opinion of the Advocate General given back in February, the Court clarified the term 'establishment' for the purposes of collective consultation, setting out that where an undertaking comprises several entities, the term 'establishment' in the directive on collective redundancies must be interpreted as referring to the entity to which the workers made redundant are assigned to carry out their duties.
Readers may recall that this was the case in which the EAT found that the UK had not correctly implemented the Directive (98/59) and that the definition of establishment should be taken to mean the entire undertaking of an organisation - a radical departure from the approach taken previously.   The case will now be returned to the Court of Appeal for a formal decision.
From a practical perspective this means that generally speaking employers looking at whether their proposed redundancies trigger the need for collective consultation, and for how long, need only consider how many employees are affected at each individual workplace.
To read the full judgment click here.

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