ECJ: Collective Consultation- Woolworths Decision

The ECJ has handed down its judgement in the Woolworths and Ethel Austin cases which considered collective consultation in redundancy situations.

The European Court of Justice has held that 'establishment' in a collective redundancy context, refers to an individual workplace and not to the employer as a whole.

Therefore when working out the headcount to see whether an employer needs to engage in collective consultation, (which is required when contemplating 20+ redundancies in a 90 day period), Woolworths was right to count each store as a separate 'establishment'. This meant that it did not need to enter into collective consultation with staff who worked in a store with a headcount of less than 20.

The ECJ has formally referred the case back to the Court of Appeal, but the Court of Appeal's decision is now likely to be just a formality.

If you have any questions on the issue raised in this article, please contact our HR/ Employment specialist Claire Berry on 01480 442040 or email

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