'You have to get collective redundancy right from day one, Twitter haven't' - employment solicitor

Twitter's actions this week with Irish staff seemed counter to collective redundancy rules, and unfair dismal claims are likely, according to an employment law solicitor
'You have to get collective redundancy right from day one, Twitter haven't' - employment solicitor

James Cox

Unfair dismissal claims are likely on the back of Twitter's actions this week, according to an employment law solicitor.

Dublin-based employment law solicitor Richard Grogan told BreakingNews.ie: "I fully expect there will be a number of unfair dismissal claims, particularly those who will want their job back rather than a monetary payout."

He explained: "When you're dealing with a large number of individuals, it becomes a collective redundancy. In such cases the employer must firstly notify the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. They then have to notify the staff they are going through a collective redundancy, the staff have to be asked to put forward representatives, employees themselves, and they can also have their union advise them, and there's a 30-day consultation process."

It's not just a matter of riding roughshod over the Irish legislation.

Twitter staff revealed some had been locked out of their work accounts. While the Elon Musk-owned social media organisation rowed back and said this doesn't necessarily mean their jobs are gone, Mr Grogan explained that it is his opinion that this goes against Irish redundancy legislation as it singles individuals out.

"Nobody is then notified of being made redundant until [a consultation process] has happened. What happened with Twitter is some people were locked out of systems, that's going to create a big issue."

While some may choose to take Twitter's redundancy packages when they are offered, Mr Grogan said he believes others will look for fair procedure and take unfair dismissal cases.

When it comes to collective redundancy you have to get it right from day one, Twitter haven't got it right from day one.

He said those who can't find comparable jobs and salaries, or who want their original position back, may take such cases.

"Some companies will be taking on people, there's a number making people redundant themselves, so it may be hard for some of these individuals to get a comparable salary relatively quickly... so they may go for unfair dismissal.

"The position is, normally in a disciplinary matter if you've broken procedures you can rectify them privately to the very last stage." Mr Grogan said when it comes to collective redundancy you have to get it right from day one, and he believes Twitter "haven't got it right".

He said Mr Musk's main mistake was taking the same actions globally, when every country has its own specific redundancy legislation.

"Twitter did this worldwide without taking into account that there are specific rules with each country that have to be complied with. All of these companies have lawyers, it would have been easy to take the advice, but it wasn't taken, but any lawyer would say 'you can't do this, you're walking into litigation'.

"The thing about it is, no company is too big to have a claim against them, and these are cases where there are lots of good employment lawyers in this country who will have no problem taking on Twitter."

Twitter's actions go against Irish redundancy legislation, according to employment law solicitor Richard Grogan.

Layoffs in the tech sector have also been reported at Stripe, while Facebook parent company Meta's announcement on Wednesday means up to 360 Irish jobs could be at risk.

Mr Grogan said other tech companies will look to avoid Twitter's mistake.

"I would have thought that companies in the tech area in Ireland will have seen what has happened with Twitter and will be on to their solicitors to make sure they do it right."

While notifying people their job may be at risk over email is "bad practice", it is not illegal, Mr Grogan explained.

However, the fact some employees don’t know their positions are at risk before a proper consultation process is against legislation.

"There's nothing against notifying someone their job is at risk by email, normally it's a letter and given in person, it's not best practice at all but there's nothing illegal about it.

"Normally if you're doing this you might send an email before calling a meeting. With collective redundancies you would notify everybody that they will be coming, and you wouldn't let any individual know their job was at risk."

BreakingNews.ie has contacted Twitter for comment on Wednesday but have yet to receive a response.

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