Should you hold a redundancy consultation when you make a provisional decision to close a workplace?
The decision from the EAT in E Ivor Hughes Educational Foundation v Morris was, yes.
The details of the case
The case centred around the provisional decision to close the school in February 2013 if pupil numbers had not improved by April. When April came around, pupil numbers had not increased, and so the decision to close was finalised. However, there was never any collective consultation over the decision, a breach of Section 188 of TULR(C) A 1992.
According to the EAT, the decision to close the school if numbers did not pick up,’was either a fixed, clear albeit provisional intention to close the School or amounted to a strategic decision on changes compelling the employer to contemplate or plan for collective redundancies. On either analysis, the duty to consult arose on that date (February 2013)’. The EAT also rejected that the need to keep the closure plans secret to protect confidence in the school was ground for appeal.
What does all this mean?
If you think you might need to close a workplace, you are obliged to start consulting staff about redundancy when a decision to do so is made, even if the decision is provisional, as with the case shown above.