Shanahan Engineering Ltd v Unite - Special circumstances did not totally relieve employer of any obligation to consult on redundancy [2010] EAT

Even where "special circumstances" exist, making it not reasonably practicable to comply with the normal 30 day collective consultation period under TULR(C)A 1992 sec 188(1A), this will not relieve the employer of its actual consultation obligations which can still be carried out in a shorter period of time. However, an employment tribunal should then go on consider whether such "special circumstances" constitute mitigation against making a maximum (90 day) protective award.

Shanahan was a construction contractor working on a major power station project. It employed 145 people at the site. The work was short-term and redundancies were fully expected: selection procedures had been agreed in advance with Unite the Union. However, no redundancies were expected as imminent in April 2008.  For health & safety reasons, Project managers Alstom instructed Shanahan to drastically alter its work practices. The matter was raised on 28 April, solutions discussed on 30 April, and the instruction given by Alstom on 1 May - to be implemented by the end of that day. Alstom's actions were pursuant to a clause which was common in the engineering industry whereby the main contractor could order the sub-contractor to stop work, and meant an immediate reduction in the workforce.

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