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Collective redundancies (Directive 98/59/EC)

The two main objectives for the adoption of the Directive were to approximate Member States’ legislation concerning the practical arrangements and procedures for such redundancies and to afford greater protection to workers in the event of collective redundancies.

According to the directive, any employer contemplating collective redundancies must consult with workers’ representatives, with a view to reaching an agreement. These consultations must at least cover ways and means of avoiding redundancies or reducing the number of workers affected and mitigating the consequences, in particular by recourse to accompanying social measures aimed at redeploying or retraining workers who are made redundant.

The directive does not apply to collective redundancies effected under contracts of employment concluded for limited periods of time or for specific tasks; to workers employed by public administrative bodies or by establishments governed by public law; and to the crews of sea-going vessels.

The directive provides that Member States may make provision for workers’ representatives to call upon expert assistance in accordance with measures in force at national level. The employer is to provide workers’ representatives with all relevant information and, in any event, is to provide the following information in writing:

  • the reasons for their decision;
  • the period during which redundancies are to be effected;
  • the number and category of workers normally employed;
  • the number to be made redundant;
  • the criteria used to select those workers to be made redundant;
  • the method used to calculate compensation.

The procedure for collective redundancies consists of three stages:

1. The employer notifies the competent public authority in writing of projected collective redundancies. This notification must contain all the relevant information concerning the projected redundancies and consultations held, except for the method used to calculate compensation. However, where the cessation of activity is the result of a court judgment, notification is necessary only at the express request of the authority.

2. The employer forwards a copy of the notification to the workers’ representatives, who may send comments to the competent public authority.

3. Collective redundancies take effect at the earliest 30 days after the notification; the competent public authority uses this period to seek solutions.1

Member States may apply or introduce provisions which are more favourable to workers.

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