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UK: European Court docket of Justice ruling on collective redundancies threshold raises doubts over UK strategy

The European Court docket of Justice has dominated that employers must look each backwards and forwards from a person dismissal to find out whether or not the edge variety of 20 redundancies to set off data and session obligations is met over a 90 day interval.  The ruling conflicts with the UK ahead–trying strategy which focuses on the employer’s proposed dates and dismissals.  Employers planning successive small batches of redundancies who want to keep away from the danger of claims might want to take specific care to make sure they don’t inadvertently cross the edge quantity over a rolling 90 day interval.

Below the Commerce Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (‘TULRCA’) which implements the EU Collective Redundancies Directive, the responsibility to tell and seek the advice of is triggered when an employer proposes 20 or extra dismissals in complete inside a 90 day interval. This might happen the place the employer proposes 10 dismissals after which, earlier than it has applied these, formulates a second proposal to implement an additional 10 inside 90 days.  Nonetheless, TULRCA expressly gives that if session has already began for the primary batch, they aren’t taken under consideration in making use of the edge to a subsequent batch inside the 90 days.  Case legislation suggests the identical applies if notices of termination have already been given previous to the employer formulating its proposal for the second batch.

In UQ v Marclean Applied sciences C-300-19, the European Court docket held that, in decoding the definition of ‘collective redundancies’ in Article 1 of the Directive, employers must look each backwards and forwards from a person dismissal to find out whether or not the edge variety of redundancies is met over the 90 day interval.  The main focus is on the precise dates of dismissal and never on whether or not, at any specific time limit, the employer had a proposal (which it hadn’t but applied or consulted on) for the edge variety of redundancies deliberate to happen inside a 90 day future interval.

Sadly the Court docket didn’t think about the substantive obligations to tell and seek the advice of in Article 2 of the Directive, which come up when an employer ‘contemplates’ collective redundancies, or to inform related authorities in Articles 3 and 4, which apply to ‘projected’ or ‘deliberate’ redundancies – each of those are clearly forward-looking.  As an alternative, the judgment seems to be saying that, if the person dismissal plus later dismissals would attain the edge quantity, the employer would inadvertently be in breach of the duty to seek the advice of over the primary dismissal despite the fact that it solely fashioned its plan to make additional redundancies after the primary dismissal had taken impact.  Having began session for a primary batch of redundancies would additionally not forestall them from being counted in direction of the edge for later redundancies inside 90 days.

Because the judgment was printed earlier than the tip of the Brexit transition interval, it’s going to stay binding on English tribunals after 31 December 2020 and they are going to be obliged to aim to construe TULRCA constantly with the judgment, to the extent attainable.  Solely the Supreme Court docket and the Court docket of Attraction will have the ability to depart from the judgment the place they think about it proper to take action. In the end (and topic to the phrases of any deal agreed with the EU), the UK Authorities might additionally amend TULRCA to make the place clearer.  Within the meantime, nevertheless, employers might want to plan fastidiously and guarantee they’re conscious of all previous and anticipated redundancies if they’re to keep away from the danger of claims attributable to inadvertently crossing the edge over the rolling 90 day interval.


Anna Henderson



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