Weekly dilemma – consultation period for redundancy

I am currently advising my employer in relation to a round of redundancies. We are looking to dismiss in excess of 20 employees. Over what period should consultation take place and can I serve notice on employees during that period?

When proposing to dismiss 20 or more employees at one place of work by making them redundant you must complete the statutory 30-day consultation period, which increases to 90 days in cases of 100 or more redundancies.

Until recently, it was understood that employers could serve notice of dismissal on redundant employees during the consultation period, provided that notice did not expire until after consultation had been completed.

However, the recent case of Junk v Woolfgang Kuhnel, decided in the European Court of Justice, changed this position so notice should only be given at the end of the consultation period.

Therefore you must ensure that consultation on both a collective and individual basis has been completed before issuing notices of termination.

If you do not complete the consultation process, you run the risk of being ordered to pay a protective award – a financial penalty made by a tribunal to ex-employees who have been made redundant, where their employer failed to consult about pending redundancies. So, the financial consequences could be onerous.

Donna Ingleby, solicitor at Andrew M Jackson

Each week we ask the experts to answer your legal dilemmas. If you have a legal question or dilemma, e-mail dawn.spalding@rbi.co.uk

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