The EAT, in a landmark collective redundancies decision, has ruled that the statutory redundancy consultation obligations require employers to consult in advance with employee representatives on the reasons for proposing the redundancies, and not just on the ways in which the consequences of the redundancies can be avoided. It was said that consultation should take place before a firm decision has been reached.

In this case, the employers closed down Ellington Colliery following a flood, stating health and safety grounds. The tribunal found that the real reasons were economic. As they gave the wrong reason, they were held not to have complied with the obligation to notify employee representatives in writing of ‘reasons for the projected redundancies’ and they were said to have failed to consult over closure.

This decision will make it harder for companies to close down businesses without prolonged consultation with employees representatives.

UK Coal Mining Ltd v National Union of Mineworkers (Northumberland Area)