Northern Ireland Industrial Tribunal refers questions on the definition of “establishment” to the European Court

by Laurie Anstis on July 4, 2013

Earlier this week, the Employment Appeal Tribunal in England and Wales published its judgment in the USDAW v Woolworths case holding that the words “at one establishment” should be deleted from section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. This meant there was an obligation to carry out collective consultation whenever an employer contemplated dismissing as redundant 20 or more employees, regardless of their work location.

The Industrial Tribunal in Northern Ireland considered the same point in Lyttle v Bluebird, and their judgment has been published today.

Lyttle v Bluebird also involved dismissals across a chain of stores. More than 20 redundancies were made across the whole of Northern Ireland, but not more than 20 in any individual store.

The Industrial Tribunal decided that the matter needed to be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union, and referred three questions on the definition of establishment, including the question which had concerned the EAT in USDAW – does the obligation to consult only arise when 20 or more employees are made redundant in an establishment, or is it sufficient that 20 or more employees are made redundant, regardless of where they work?

It seems there is more to come on this question of “establishment”.

I heard of this first from IDS Brief via the Employment Lawyers’ Association.