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Collective redundancy legislation in Ireland

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The recent announcement of lay-offs and redundancies affecting many firms in the tech industry has caused widespread worry among those affected, particularly in relation to the way in which the notification of these lay-offs were handled at Twitter.

What is collective redundancy?

A collective redundancy is where a company makes a number of employees redundancy within a thirty-day time period. A collective redundancy is based on a minimum number of proposed redundancies having regard to the overall size of the workforce. It is considered a collective redundancy if

  1. 5 employees are made redundancy if there are between 21 -49 employees in the company;
  2. 10 employees in an establishment of between 50 – 99 employees;
  3. 10% in an establishment of between 100 – 299 employees;
  4. 30 employees in an establishment of 300 or more employees.

What happened at Twitter?

Social media giant, Twitter initially seem to have ignored Irish employment law, in particular, turning a blind eye to to the consultation obligation process pursuant to collective redundancy legislation in Ireland. This legislation requires employers who are proposing a collective redundancy to;

  1. engage in an information and consultation process with employees’ representatives and;
  2. notify the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment of the potential collective redundancy.

Most importantly, an employer is prohibited from issuing any notice of the redundancy during the mandatory consultation period and any attempt to do so renders an employer liable for a fine of €3,000.

By acting outside of Ireland’s collective redundancy legislation, Twitter have left themselves open to unfair dismissal claims from those affected by the collective redundancy.

Once an employer has complied with their obligations under employment legislation, there is an effective redundancy. In circumstances where employees are being paid ex-gratia amounts over and above the statutory minimum, they will be asked to sign a compromise agreement in which they will be waiving legal rights in exchange for that payment.

Read Partner, Marc Fitzgibbon’s comments in The Sunday Times on Twitter’s initial contravention of Irish legislation here.

If you’d like to discuss a redundancy or employment related issue, please contact our employment team directly on 01 644 5800.