A year ago the Court of Appeal referred to the European Court of Justice the case of USDAW v Woolworths on the trigger for collective redundancy consultation obligations for multi-site employers. The UK trigger requires 20 or more proposed redundancies "at one establishment" over a 90 day period.
The EAT had ruled that this trigger did not properly implement EU law, and that the obligation to inform and consult for collective redundancies applies whenever an employer proposes 20 or more redundancies in aggregate even if this is spread across a number of separate workplaces or business units.
The Advocate General has now recommended that the ECJ disagree with the EAT's view. In his opinion delivered on 5 February 2015, the Advocate General considered that the rationale for the EU law is to require consultation where redundancies pose a threat to the survival of local communities, hence the focus on the local employment unit was appropriate. EU law therefore did not require redundancies to be aggregated across all of an employer's separate employment units when applying the threshold. If the European Court of Justice follows the Advocate General's opinion when it gives its ruling later this year, this will be welcome news for multi-site employers.
Further details are included in our blog here.