Woolworths workers lose compensation fight

2015-05-01 Jennifer Renney posted:

Thousands of workers made redundant by the closure of Woolworths will not receive compensation, following a European Court of Justice ruling this week. The dispute dates back to 2008, when high street chain Woolworths went into administration and thousands of its staff were made redundant.

Under Trade Union law, employers dismissing 20 or more staff at one establishment have an obligation to collectively consult with employee representatives of affected staff. However Woolworths did not undertake collective consultation in their stores where they employed less than 20 staff.

Backed by their Union, USDAW, thousands of staff made claims to the employment tribunal for compensation for failure to collectively consult over the redundancies.

Woolworths defended the claims arguing that the term ‘one establishment’ meant individual stores, and there was no duty to consult if a store employed less than 20 staff. The workers claimed that ‘one establishment’ meant the whole business.

Initially, the employment tribunal found in favour of Woolworths, however this decision was overturned by the employment appeals tribunal which found in favour of the staff. The further appeal by Woolworths to the European Court of Justice was successful, marking the end of the road for almost 4,000 workers. However there is now clarity for employers on this point which will make the redundancy consultation process simpler and less expensive.

For more information about redundancy contact one of our employment solicitor specialists on 01225 632240 or at info@renneyandco.com.

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