This case, Dobson v David Cover & Sons reflects the importance of individual consultation even in cases in which collective consultation is also required.
The employer was a large transport company employing about 450 employees across 12 depots.
In February 2009 the company announced the need for redundancies – 80 employees were at risk -22 were to be made redundant.
The number to be made redundant is important as collective consultation with “the appropriate representatives” is required where it is proposed to dismiss as redundant 20 or more employees at one establishment within a period of 90 days or less.
As there was no recognised trade union, the employer sought elected representative but no nominations were forthcoming so the employer nominated a representative.
The employer subsequently consulted with the representative, omitting to consult on an individual basis. This gave rise to a claim that the lack of individual consultation made the dismissal unfair.
Although the EAT concluded that the lack of individual consultation did not in fact make the redundancy dismissal unfair, the cost in legal fees would have been considerable for what was purely an error of omission.
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