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Employers obliged to consult with trade unions on workplace changes, rules Court of Appeal

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Employers will be obliged to consult with trade unions around any workplaces issues that could affect workers, according to new guidance from the Court of Appeal.

The trade union Unison brought the case alongside two park police officers who had been made redundant by the London Borough of Wandsworth.

In the first instance, an employment tribunal ruled that not only could the two officers bring unfair dismissal claims, but Unison could also bring a claim for the borough’s failure to consult on the redundancies.

A later employment appeal tribunal (EAT) disagreed, and the case was summoned before the Court of Appeal.

The appeal court took two stances. It first decided that the police officers could not bring an unfair dismissal claim, but, because of European human rights legislation, the trade union could take action against the borough for failure to consult on the redundancies.

The judgment implies that all employers should have to consult with unions before changes are made in the workplace, including holiday pay and working hours where union members are affected.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “The message to bosses is they will have to treat their staff more fairly over pay and working conditions.

“If they fail to consult unions then they will be acting unlawfully and could be taken to court.”

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) was listed as an interested party in the case.

A spokesperson said: “We respect the court’s findings and are considering the judgment.”