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meaning of 'establishment' in collective redundancy consultations

6 February 2015

In USDAW v Woolworths, Lyttle v Bluebird, and Canas v Nexea Advocate General Wahl considered the meaning of the term ‘establishment’ in Article 1 (1) (a) (ii) of the EU Collective Redundancies Directive 98/59. The question was whether the obligation to consult arises when the overall total of proposed redundancy dismissals is at least 20 across all of an employer’s establishments or whether the total must be at least 20 at each establishment.

The Advocate General held that ‘establishment’ must have a consistent meaning across the Directive. He considers ‘establishment’ to be the unit which the redundant employees are assigned to carry out their duties and it is not necessary to aggregate dismissals across all of an employer’s establishments to determine whether the Directive protections apply. He added that what is a local employment unit is a question of fact to be determined by national courts.

This opinion is not binding on the full ECJ, but is likely to be highly influential. The ECJ should rule on the question later in the year.

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