Woolworths Collective Redundancy Case Referred to ECJ
The Court of Appeal has heard the appeal in the case of USDAW v Ethel Austin Ltd (in administration) and another on whether employers must undertake collective redundancy consultation whenever 20 or more redundancies are proposed within a period of 90 days, irrespective of whether these are at the same or different establishments.
It is being reported that rather than determining the issue itself, the Court of Appeal has referred the case to the ECJ, to be joined with the Northern Irish case of Lyttle v Bluebird. The precise questions which the ECJ will be asked to consider are to be agreed by the parties in the next 7 days. It is understood that the Court of Appeal will also ask for the case to be expedited.
As a result of the reference to the ECJ it will now be some time before a decision is made on whether s188 TULRCA, which only requires employers to consult about collective redundancies when 20 or more redundancies are proposed at any particular establishment, complies with the requirements of the EC Collective Redundancies Directive. In the meantime, the EAT decision in this case remains binding and so employers should continue to consult whenever 20 or more redundancies are proposed within 90 days, even where they are at different establishments.
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