Ex-API Laminates staff win £112k payout following company’s collapse

Simpson Millar represented 32 staff in legal battle against flooring company

Dozens of former API Laminates employees made redundant when the business collapsed in February last year have won their legal battle against the business and secured a payout totalling £111, 833.72 after a tribunal judged that the company had failed in its duty to its staff.

The flooring company, which formed part of the API Group, went into administration after its US parent closed all of its UK manufacturing sites – including in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, and Stockport in Greater Manchester.

While parts of the business were later acquired by competitors, more than 100 employees were made redundant.

Now, 32 former staff members will receive payments after an employment law tribunal found that API Laminates had failed in its legal obligation to formally consult with its staff during the ‘redundancy consultation period’.

The pay-out follows legal action carried out by leading employment law experts at Simpson Millar and comes in the form of a Protective Awards which have been claimed from the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS), which is part of the Governments Insolvency Service.

Further to the Employment Tribunal in the API Laminates case, the Judgment, which was handed down in December last year, said that the company had ‘failed adequately to comply’ with the law, and that the claims for a protective award were therefore ‘well-founded’.

Commenting on the outcome Damian Kelly, head of employment law at Simpson Millar, said: “Being made redundant under any circumstances can be incredibly stressful. However, to be made redundant with little notice, and at the start of a global pandemic, was extremely distressing for our clients.

“We are delighted to have now secured a Protective Award for those affected, which will provide much needed peace of mind following what has been an incredibly tough year for anyone looking for work.”

Damian explains that a Protective Award is an award of compensation of up to 90 days' gross pay that can be awarded by an Employment Tribunal for failure by an employer to follow the correct procedure when making redundancies.

“When that law is disregarded, it is possible, as this case has demonstrated, to hold the company to account through the Employment Tribunals.

“Our clients are grateful for at least some closure to enable them to move forward with their lives.”

Simpson Millar also work on behalf of many other clients whose livelihoods have suffered due to the job losses across the manufacturing and construction sector including J Rotherham Masonry, Triumph Furniture and Ena Shaw.

Damian added: “While the process to claim for a Protective Award does not result in an influx of cash immediately, it remains an important lifeline for many.

“For anyone affected in a similar way to those who worked at API Laminates, please do know that legal protection remains in place to support those who have been redundant without being taken through the correct consultation process.”

The RPS is a government funded scheme set up to pay up employees up to a maximum of 8 weeks’ pay in the form of a protective award where an employer has become insolvent and has therefore decided not to properly consult with its employees over inevitable redundancies.

The RPS also pays other funds owed to employees including redundancy pay, arrears of holiday pay and notice pay. However, while these claims can be made by an employee completing an online form, a claim for a Protective Award requires a formal Employment Tribunal Order.

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