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Limited Term Contracts and Redundancy – Supreme Court Guidance

PLEASE NOTE: Information in this article is correct at the time of publication, please contact DFA Law for current advice on older articles.

Limited term contract (LTC) workers, who were amongst those who lost their jobs during a round of cost cutting at a university, were entitled to the same consultation rights as their permanent colleagues, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The university planned to make 140 of its permanent staff redundant during a period of 90 days or less and the duty to consult their trade union under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 was therefore triggered.

However, the university took the view that it did not have to include in the collective consultation process those workers whose LTCs came to an end during the consultation period. A union representing four of those workers mounted a challenge to that decision but the Inner House of the Court of Session ruled that, although they had been dismissed, they had not been made redundant.

In allowing the union’s appeal, the Supreme Court noted that it was common ground that the workers were dismissed when their LTCs expired and were not renewed. The reason for their dismissal was not related to their individual circumstances but to the university’s need to cut costs. By failing to offer them new LTCs, the university had made them redundant and the obligation to consult the union therefore arose.

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