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ECJ: Collective Consultation - Woolworths Decision

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The European Court of Justice has handed down its judgment in the Woolworths and Ethel Austin cases.  The full text is not online yet, but the court's official summary is.

The ECJ held that 'establishment', in the collective redundancy legislation, refers to an individual workplace (or, more accurately, the entity to which the workers made redundant are assigned to carry out their duties), not to the employer as a whole.

So when establishing headcount to see whether an employer needs to engage in collective consultation (required when contemplating 20+ redundancies in a period of 90 days), Woolworths was right to count each store as a separate 'establishment'.  This, in turn, meant that it did not need to engage in collective consultation with staff who worked in a store with a headcount of less than 20.

The ECJ has formally referred the case back to the Court of Appeal, but the Court of Appeal's decision is now likely to be a formality - i.e. reversing the decision of the EAT in the summer of 2013 which set the employment law world afire.

For a full history, see here.