Woolworths, it’s fair to say a British institution for many up to its collapse in 2008, made 30,000 people redundant in the process.
Following the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s decision in the recent case of
Usdaw v WW Realisation 1 Ltd (formerly Woolworths), the previous “loophole” of avoiding consultation in establishments with less than 20 employees has now been finally closed.
Previously the obligation to consult collectively was only triggered where an employer proposed to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at ?one establishment? within a period of 90 days or less.
However, this decision confirms that the words “at one establishment” should be deleted when considering whether collective redundancy consultation should apply.
This has implications for all employers who have multi-site operations, as individual sites will no longer be considered to be separate establishments. Employers will, therefore, need to look at the number of redundancies proposed across their whole organisation when considering whether collective consultation procedures should apply.
Otherwise, they will undoubtedly face unfair dismissal and related claims.
The safest and best-practice approach is to start consultation with employees or representatives as soon as redundancies are a possibility.
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