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“Woolworths” case referred to European Court of Justice

The Government’s appeal in the landmark collective redundancy decision in USDAW and others v WW Realisation 1 Ltd (or the “Woolworths’ decision” as it’s more commonly known) has been referred to the European Court of Justice.

In terms of UK law, employers must carry out collective redundancy consultation where they propose to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within 90 days. However, in the Woolworths’ case the Employment Appeal Tribunal held that the words ‘at one establishment’ should be disregarded as they were incompatible with EU law. As a result, collective consultation should have been carried out with all Woolworths’ employees, including those from stores with less than 20 employees. As it was not, they were entitled to a protective award.

This marked a significant change in the law: meaning that employers should collectively consult once at least 20 redundancies are proposed within 90 days, regardless of the employees’ place of work. Given the serious implications for employers, the government appealed to the Court of Appeal, which has now referred the matter to the European Court of Justice.

In the meantime, this leaves a continuing state of uncertainty. If you are involved in a collective redundancy situation and are unsure how to proceed, please get in touch with a member of the team.

You can access our previous blogs on this case here and here.

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