Woolworths Landmark Collective Redundancy Consultation Case: Written Judgment Published

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Posted on 02 Jul 2013

The EAT’s written judgment in USDAW and others v WW Realisation 1 Ltd (in liquidation) and another has now been published and confirms a significant extension to collective redundancy consultation obligations. 

As we reported last month, the EAT has decided that UK law on collective redundancy consultation does not comply with the European Collective Redundancies Directive. S188 Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULRCA) must therefore be construed in a way which gives effect to the Directive. Collective redundancy consultation obligations are triggered whenever 20 or more redundancies are proposed within a 90 day period. The current requirement that these must take place “at one establishment” before obligations are triggered must be deleted from the TULRCA. 

The decision in this case means that collective redundancy consultation obligations will apply more frequently than has been the case up to now. An employer will be obliged to consult collectively, regardless of the numbers employed in the business units or locations affected, provided that overall it proposes to make 20 or more redundancies within a 90 day period or less. 

It is unclear whether there will be an appeal in this case to the Court of Appeal but the parties have 21 days from receipt of the written judgment in which to do so. As the case concerned redundancies at Woolworths stores and the employer is in liquidation, liability for protective awards for some 3000 employees now rests with Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills. The Secretary of State refused to become involved in the decision at EAT level, despite being joined as a party to the proceedings. We will keep you updated on news of any appeal by the Secretary of State. 

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