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When is collective consultation required?

When is collective consultation required?

Collective consultation obligations apply where an employer is proposing to dismiss 20 or more employees as redundant at any one establishment within a 90-day period.

For Schools that are, for example, part of a wider multi-academy trust, the question as to whether collective consultation obligations apply can often turn on whether the proposal is at “one establishment.”

It is also important to note that the definition of a redundancy dismissal for these purposes is wider than the test of whether the employee would qualify for a statutory redundancy payment. For example, it includes the following circumstances:

  • Voluntary redundancies
  • Employees whose current role the School is proposing to make redundant but expects to offer suitable alternative employment
  • Employees whom the School is proposing to ‘dismiss and re-engage’ in order to achieve changes to their contract of employment.

Schools are well advised to check their Redundancy / Managing Change Policies which have usually been negotiated with recognised trade unions at the outset of a redundancy or restructure process.  This is because it is often the case that, even where such policies and procedures are non-contractual and the proposal is to dismiss fewer than 20 or more employees as redundant, the School has committed to consult (albeit outside of the collective consultation regime) with trade unions about potential redundancies or restructures.

In these circumstances best practise, with a view to maintaining strong union relations, is to follow the steps set out below.  However correspondence to recognised trade unions should make it clear that it is the School’s understanding that the requirement to collectively consult with recognised trade unions does not arise because there are less than 20 staff potentially affected by the proposal.