[Thanks to James English of Samuel Phillips solicitors for preparing this case summary]
Can a local authority's education department be an establishment for the purposes of collective consultation?
No, says the EAT in Renfrewshire Council v The Educational Institute of Scotland.
Section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992 requires an employer to consult with the employees' representatives where the employer proposes to dismiss 20 or more employees at one establishment within a period of 90 days or less.
The employment tribunal concluded that the establishment was the education and leisure service for the Council. The tribunal had been influenced by the EAT's decision in Wilkinson v City of Edinburgh Council (which was itself later overturned on appeal), in the importance given to mobility clauses in the teachers' contracts, which in practice were never relied upon.
The Council appealed. Overturning the judgment, the EAT held that the assignment must refer to the factual rather than the contractual position. What matters is where the dismissal is at, not where the work may be performed. The suggestion that a school was not a distinct entity was unfathomable. The case was remitted to the tribunal for further consideration of the individual teachers' positions.