Employees are entitled, under the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004, to request their employer to negotiate an agreement for information and consultation of employees. To be valid, the request must be made by at least 10% of the employees in the "undertaking". The UK opted for this definition, rather than "establishment", when implementing the European Information and Consultation Directive in 2004.
In Lee v Cofely Workplace Ltd, the request was made by 28 of Cofely's employees, who worked as part of a team of 210 employees on a facilitates management contract with the University of London. The request was therefore made by 13% of the team. However, the 28 were only 0.3% of Cofely's total workforce, which had over 9,000 employees working at several hundred different sites.
Cofely successfully argued that the company was the "undertaking", the legal entity employing the workers making the request, and because the request had been made by just 0.3% of their employees it was therefore invalid. The Central Arbitration Committee, which decides on the legitimacy of requests, agreed and the EAT upheld that decision. The undertaking was Cofely as employer, not a division or department of that employer.