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EAT judgment transforms collective redundancy consultation rules

Just months after major rule changes for collective redundancies were brought in to reduce the burden on employers, a landmark judgment has 'turned the law on its head', according to one commentator.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has recently published its judgment in a case surrounding the collapse of Woolworths, and has stated that UK law on collective redundancy consultation does not comply with the European Collective Redundancies Directive. As a result, if an employer is seeking to make 20 or more redundancies over a period of 90 days, it will have to initiate a consultation with employee representatives.

Previously, UK law provided that this consultation was only necessary if the employer was proposing to make 20 or more workers redundant at one establishment within 90 days. However, the EAT has ruled that the 'at one establishment' part of the law should be 'deleted' to bring UK legislation in line with the EU.

The law change makes it more likely that collective redundancy consultations are necessary. Employers are now obliged to consult collectively even if they are proposing to make a few individuals redundant at several business locations, provided that, taken as a whole, there are 20 or more redundancies proposed within a 90-day period.

The case may still be taken to the Court of Appeal.

If your organisation is restructuring, advisers on the Acas Helpline can help you explore the options and alternatives to redundancy, as well as make sure you have the correct redundancy procedures in place. Call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100 for free impartial advice.

Acas gives detailed online Redundancy guidance and runs practical training courses on Redundancy that explain the law and outline the best approaches for managing people through redundancy situations.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects page for more information.

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