Debenhams fell into administration in 2020 and was forced to shut its doors after 242 years on British high streets. It marked one of the UK’s biggest retail failures and resulted in more than 10,000 job losses. Law firm Simpson Millar represented the group of former workers, which included Usdaw members.
Paddy Lillis - Usdaw General Secretary says:
“Yet again the taxpayer will have to pick up the bill for money owed to sacked staff because administrators deliberately flouted the law. It is absolutely disgraceful that companies can get away with this sort of tactic in the 21st century. We are also appalled that it took over three years for workers to secure the protective award they deserve, which was severely hindered by the Government’s continuing failure to tackle the backlog in the justice system.
“Over the Summer of 2020 redundancies were made by conference call, with no meaningful consultation. This area of law requires review because it is riddled with injustices for both workers and taxpayers as liability to pay the protective awards when companies are in administration falls to the Government’s insolvency fund. The Government needs to end the perverse financial incentive for employers and administrators not to comply with legal obligations on collective redundancy consultation.
“Cases like this highlight the flaws in the UK’s employment rights framework, which offers far too little protection to workers, both individually and collectively. It’s high time that redundancy rights were strengthened to give workers more security and better support.”
Notes for editors:
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers)
is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 350,000 members. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemical industry and other trades www.usdaw.org.uk
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news
and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion