Arcadia Group Staff to take Legal Action over Redundancy Process
10 February 2021
A former Topman team leader says he feels ‘let down’ after learning that his job was likely to go as part of the mass redundancies announced last week over social media.
Ryan Russon from Sheffield is just one of dozens of Arcadia Group workers who have instructed law firm Simpson Millar to take legal action against the retail consortium, after it became clear that their jobs would not be saved despite a deal which saw online retailer Asos buy four of its brands.
A Masters student at The University of Law in Leeds, Ryan had been funding his degree by working part time as a team leader at the Topman store in Meadowhall.
Speaking of his situation he said: “I found out that my job was likely to go as part of the sale of Topman to Asos via Instagram. I think most of my colleagues learnt the news the same way.
“We got a letter from the administrators on the 2nd which delivered the ‘official redundancy’ confirmation, and that was backdated to the 1st which made us feel like a bit of an afterthought. Why did the press know before us?
“I’d always found Topman a good company to work for, but after it went into administration things really took a turn for the worse and while we’ve had regular letters and correspondence, the details have always centred around the sale. It’s never really been about us as the staff, and what was going to happen to us.
“We feel really let down.”
National law firm Simpson Millar says it is receiving huge volumes of calls from former employees by the day, and is now in the early stages of investigations to enable appropriate legal action to be brought to secure what is known as a Protective Award on their behalf for the company’s failure to properly consult staff regarding the mass redundancies.
The firm, which has also set up an online compensation form which allows other employees to see whether they can also claim, says it is also now receiving enquiries from former Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton workers further to news yesterday that a further 2,450 jobs have been lost.
Ryan Russon added: “I’d worked for the company for six and a half years, and the thought of finding another job now given that so many of us are in the same boat is overwhelming to say the least.
“The Protective Award if we win the case, and the redundancy payments we’re owed will help in the longer term, but it is going to take time to access that money. Until then, I am really worried about how I am going to fund my degree.”
Simpson Millar’s leading Employment Law team is currently instructed by thousands of former employees affected by the collapse of a number of well-known businesses including Debenhams, Thomas Cook, Mothercare, Bathstore and Jamie’s Italian. Last year, the firm announced that it had secured payments on behalf of 103 ex-Mutiyork staff amounting to £300k.
Damian Kelly, Head of Employment Law at the firm, said: “The current situation is making it difficult for many companies across most industries and it is no surprise that retail giants – and particularly those that are so reliant on High Street or shopping centre footfall - are being significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Sadly, it would appear that the deal that was struck with Asos to buy the four Arcadia brands did not include the shops, or some of the distribution hubs. As a result, the number of employees who are now facing redundancy is really quite significant.
Damian went on to say that while many people would assume that Arcadia would not have to follow the correct employment procedures because it had gone into administration, they still do have a duty of care to their staff under current employment law legislation.
He said: “While some companies are struggling because of the pandemic, they still have a duty under current employment law legislation to carry out a proper consultation with staff at risk of redundancies. Where that does not happen, employees can bring a claim for a Protective Award.”
Damian explains that a Protective Award is a payment awarded by an Employment Tribunal in cases where an employer fails to follow the correct procedure when making 20 or more redundancies and, where an Employment Tribunal finds in the favour of the employees, they will be able to access the funds via the Government Insolvency Service.
With decades of experience representing people who have been made redundant without the correct consultation, Damian added: “When people are made redundant the first thing they normally do is look for another job, but in the current climate new jobs are very rare and competition for each role is significant. Not least given the latest news about the other Arcadia Group redundancies.
“As a result, people are having to prioritise taking measures like applying for universal credit and mortgage holidays in order to be able to survive financially.
“While the process to claim for a Protective Award will not result in an influx of cash immediately, legal protection remains in place to support people who are made redundant without being taken through the correct consultation process, and the money recovered in successful claims will provide some longer term security for those affected.”
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