Labour Research December 2001

Features: Law queries

Law queries

* Our employers have announced redundancies and said they will consult. However, they are doing this in a very half-hearted way, which leads us to assume that they have no intention of changing their plans. Is there any way that this can be challenged? They also said originally that there would be 90 redundancies and that therefore only 30 days were required for consultation. However, just two weeks later another 15 have been announced. This time they say that there is no need to consult because the number is below 20. Is this right?

Employers have a legal obligation genuinely to consult. If they carry out consultation in a manner that clearly suggests that they have no real intention of listening then, according to a recent EAT ruling, they will not have complied with the law. Furthermore, if they announce redundancies in stages the date by which consultation must begin is calculated by taking all the redundancies into account, provided the last are announced within three months of the first. In this case the employer announced 105 redundancies within a three-month period. This takes them over the threshold and requires consultation at least 90 days before the first redundancy is due to happen.

More information: Middlesbrough BC v T&G and UNISON 26/00