23 January 2014 #Employment
At the hearing this week, the Court of Appeal has referred the Woolworth’s and Ethel Austin cases to the European Court of Justice. Confirmation is now awaited as to exactly what questions to be considered by the ECJ.
John Hannett - Usdaw General Secretary said: ‘We are pleased that this case is going to be heard at the highest level and that we will get a definitive decision.
Exactly how definitive that answer will be and how long it will be before we get it, remains to be seen.
In January 2012, compensation for 25,000 former employees of both companies was awarded but around 1,200 former employees of Ethel Austin and 3,200 former employees of Woolworths did not receive compensation because they worked in stores with fewer than 20 staff.
Woolworths went into administration on 27 November 2008 and by early January 2009 the administrators Deloitte had closed all of Woolworths stores, offices and distribution centres. In January 2012, a protective award for over 24,000 former employees of Woolworths was made after an employment tribunal found that Woolworths had failed in its statutory duty to consult with the union before making the redundancies. The award, worth eight weeks pay, payable by the Redundancy Payments Office, was limited to workplaces where 20 or more redundancies were made. As a result, around 3,200 employees who worked in 180 of Woolworths 814 stores did not receive compensation.
Usdaw successfully appealed the decisions in the Woolworths and Ethel Austin cases to limit the awards to workplaces where 20 or more redundancies were made.