Collective redundancies are decisions by employers to lay off a group of employees. The EU Directive on this question (98/59/EC) aims to improve protection for workers affected by decisions of this kind. It sets out rules on the information and consultation of workers’ representatives before collective redundancies are made, as well as provisions on practical support for the employees who are laid off.
Under the Directive, any employer contemplating collective redundancies must hold consultations in good time with the workers’ representatives, with a view to reaching an agreement. These consultations must, at the minimum, cover means of avoiding collective redundancies or reducing the number of workers affected, and of mitigating the consequences, in particular by recourse to accompanying social measures aimed at redeploying or retraining those workers made redundant.
To ensure that the consultations are effective, employers must provide the workers’ representatives with written information on the reasons for the projected redundancies, the number of categories of workers to be made redundant, the number and categories of workers normally employed, the period over which the projected redundancies are to be effected, the selection criteria proposed, and the method for calculating any extra redundancy payments. The employer is also required to notify the competent public authority in writing of any projected collective redundancies.
With the exceptions of public administrative bodies or establishments governed by public law, the crews of seagoing vessels and redundancies effected under fixed-term contracts (except if such redundancies take place prior to the date of the expiry of the contract), all employers employing at least 20 workers in an establishment are concerned by the Directive.
However, the Directive allows Member States to choose between two alternatives when declaring redundancies to be collective:
The texts of the Directive and its forerunners are available, as well as the implementation studies.