Employers must consult with employee representatives over collective redundancies even if special circumstances excuse them from the obligation to do so for a minimum period of 30 days (or 90 days if at least 100 redundancies are proposed).

The employer was a sub-contractor in the construction industry and was ordered by the main contractor to change work schedules with immediate effect, inevitably leading to redundancies. The EAT ruled that this did amount to special circumstances making it not reasonably practicable to consult for the full 30 day period, but it had still been reasonably practicable to consult for 2 or 3 days. The employer had therefore breached its consultation obligations.

However, the tribunal had been wrong to order the maximum protective award of 90 days' pay per employee, as this failed to take into account the special circumstances. (Shanahan Engineering v UNITE, EAT)