The Supreme Court ratifi es the case law stipulating that the number of contract terminations exceeding the thresholds set out in article 51.1 of the Workers’ Statute should be classifi ed as a collective dismissal, in relation to the entirety of the company and single workplaces employing more than 20 staff. 

Judgment delivered by the Supreme Court on 17 October 2016

The claimants argued the existence of a collective dismissal due to exceeding the workplace thresholds with 77 employees. In turn, the company believed that the dismissals were individual objective contract terminations since less than 30 employees were affected out of a total of the 3,100 staff making up the company’s workforce across its numerous workplaces.

In this regard, the dispute should be settled based on the unit of reference for the purpose of the thresholds for collective dismissals: the company in its entirety or the specific workplace affected.

By interpreting article 51.1 of the Workers’ Statute, in accordance with Council Directive 98/59/EC of 20 July 1998 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to collective redundancies and the judgment delivered by the CJEU on 13 May 2015 (case C-392/13, Rabal Cañas), exceeding the legal thresholds at a single workplace with more than 20 employees is considered a collective dismissal.

Nevertheless, the Supreme Court believes that our employment laws do not differentiate between the company and workplace as units of reference. In fact, they are treated from a legal perspective as one and the same for all essential and key aspects of employment relationships. Thus, said Court arrives at the conclusion that the legal system uses the terms “company” and “workplace” interchangeably.

The Court affirms that a collective dismissal exists when the number of contract terminations exceeds the thresholds set in article 51.1 of the Workers’ Statute, using the entire company as a unit of reference, as well as when the thresholds are exceeded at a single workplace, provided that there are more than 20 employees rendering services at such site.