Proposed Change to Collective Redundancy Law

The government is proposing a minor change in collective redundancy law following a European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgement. It will confirm that employers considering making employees redundant must inform the Secretary of State for Trade & Industry before dismissal notices have been given to employees.

The RMT made a submission to the government consultation on the matter, which has recently closed.

Unfortunately, the government is not intending to amend the law to take account of the equally important part of the ECJ judgement that dealt with consultation with employee representatives i.e. that employers considering making employees redundant must consult with employee' representatives in good time and before dismissal notices have been given to employees.

This is because the purpose of obliging an employer to consult with employee representatives is to avoid or minimise redundancies and this is unlikely to happen if dismissal notices have already been issued. The RMT stated that the government must amend the legislation here too.

The limited change outlined by the government does not address the problem of employers not 'meaningfully' engaging with employee representatives in an effort to avoid redundancies or reduced the numbers required. Neither does the amendment disguise the general weakness of the current UK redundancy legislation.

All these points were forcefully made in the RMT submission to the DTI. If after reflecting on the consultation responses the government decides to proceed with the proposed legislative change, it is envisaged that it will come into force on October 1, 2006.