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23rd January, 2014

Landmark ruling in the Woolworths case referred to CJEU


Back in June 2013, we reported on the Employment Appeal Tribunal’s landmark decision in USDAW v Ethel Austin Ltd (in administration) and another UKEAT/0547/12 that the words “in one establishment” should be disregarded.

When Woolworths and Ethel Austin became insolvent, each of their stores were treated as “one establishment”, therefore collective consultation only took place at the larger stores (with more than 20 employees). The EAT held that this approach did not reflect the purpose of the EU Directive and that an employer should not be able to avoid collective consultation by effectively scattering employees over different establishments within the UK. The words “at one establishment” should therefore be deleted to allow the whole of Woolworths and Ethel Austin respectively to be treated as one establishment and all employees (at any of their stores) who were at risk of redundancy within a 90 day period should have been collectively consulted with.

This was a landmark ruling for employment law which saw over 4,000 employees granted a protective award. Understandably, it was always likely that this decision would be appealed.

The appeal was heard in the Court of Appeal on 21 and 22 January 2014 and we have today received details that the Court of Appeal has referred the case to the CJEU.

We eagerly await further developments on this case.

For further information or advice in relation to collective consultation, please contact Helen Watson on 01244 405565 or send an email to [email protected]

 



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