The Protection of Employment Acts 1977 as amended impose a number of obligations in relation to information and consultation on an employer where it is effecting a collective redundancy. A collective redundancy is one that involves making a specified number of employees redundant within a 30 day period.
The specified number of employees varies depending on the size of the employer’s workforce. The statutory thresholds are set out in the table below.
|Total workforce||Threshold number of redundancies|
|21 to 49||5 or more|
|50 to 99||10 or more|
|100 to 299||10% or more of the workforce|
|300 or more||30 or more|
Notification to the Minister
Employers who are making collective redundancies must give written notice of the proposed redundancies to the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. A copy of this notice must be sent to the employees’ representatives who may make observations to the Minister. The Minister has power to make further enquiries about the situation and to carry out investigations if necessary. The Minister should be notified at the earliest opportunity and, in any event, at least 30 days before the first dismissal takes effect. Where collective redundancies are effected by an employer before the expiry of the 30 day period, the employer is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction or indictment to a fine not exceeding €250,000.
In addition, the employer must consult with the Minister, or an authorised officer of the Minister, if requested to do so. Such consultations are intended to seek solutions to any problems caused by the proposed redundancies. For the purposes of such consultations, the employer must supply the Minister with as much information about the proposed redundancies as the Minister may reasonably require.
Notification to employees' representatives
The 1977 Act as amended requires the employer to give the employees' representatives written details of:
- the reasons for the proposed redundancies
- the number and descriptions of categories of employees to be made redundant
- the number and descriptions of categories of employees normally employed
- the period during which the redundancies are to be made
- the criteria proposed for the selection of workers to be made redundant
- the method proposed for calculating redundancy payments.
- Under the Protection of Employees (Temporary Agency Work) Act 2012, the employer must also give details of the number of any agency workers engaged by the employer and their place and type of work.
The same information should be supplied to the Minister as soon as possible
The legislation obliges the employer to consult with employees’ representatives on the proposed redundancies to try to reach an agreement. The employees’ representatives are their trade unions or staff associations or, where there is no trade union or staff association, persons chosen by the employees to represent them.
The consultation must include discussions on:
- The possibility of avoiding the proposed redundancies or reducing the numbers of employees affected. For example, by re-deploying or re-training employees.
- The basis on which employees are to be selected for redundancy.
Consultations should be initiated at the earliest reasonable opportunity and at least 30 days before the first notice of dismissal is given. The obligation to consult is triggered where strategic decisions or changes in activities occur which compel the employer to contemplate or plan for redundancies.
Failure to initiate consultation with the employees' representatives, or to notify the Minister, is an offence and an employer is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €5,000.
For more information on informing and consulting employees, see our factsheet on the topic.