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Kaur v M G Rover Group Limited
Terms of employment and collective agreements
In 2003, Kaur, along with 100 other employees, was faced with the threat of compulsory redundancy. She maintained that, in line with the terms of collective agreements which were expressly incorporated into her contract of employment, her employer was not entitled to declare employees of her category and grade compulsorily redundant. The agreements in question were 'Rover Tomorrow - The New Deal', which included a job-security provision, and second, 'The Way Ahead', which stated that: "There will be no compulsory redundancy". Her contract of also gave her the option to give notice to terminate her employment for any reason.
Kaur applied to the court for a declaration that both the collective agreements were incorporated into her contract of employment, with the effect that she had a contractual right not to be made compulsorily redundant.
In the High Court, the judge held that the provision relating to job-security in the 'New Deal' agreement was no more than an expression of an aim or expectation and so was not incorporated into the individual employee contracts. However, the judge agreed that 'The Way Ahead' agreement was incorporated, and had the effect that no compulsory redundancy was the aim of the agreement and it prevailed over the employers' right to terminate on notice. Kaur, therefore, had a contractual right not to be made compulsorily redundant.
The employer went to the Court of Appeal. Kaur cross-appealed, on the grounds that the job security provision of 'The New Deal' was not incorporated in her contract of employment. The Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and dismissed the cross-appeal.
The main thrust of the decision is that even where a document (such as a collective agreement) is expressly incorporated into a contract of employment by general words it is still necessary to consider whether any particular part of that document should actually be a term of the contract. This is particularly so in the case of collective agreements made between employers and trade unions, as there may well be certain provisions in the agreements which are clearly not intended to give rise to legally enforceable contractual