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Former Blakemores employees in line for £180,000 pay-out

Birmingham Employment Tribunal awards claimants 90 days' protective awards

19 December 2014

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Up to 30 employees who lost their jobs when Birmingham solicitors Blakemores fell into administration are in line for a total of more than £180,000.

The firm, which also had branches in Coventry and Leamington and employed 250 people at its peak, went into administration last year after facing financial problems.

Now the Birmingham Employment Tribunal has approved 90 days' pay totalling more than £180,000 to up to 30 former employees after they complained they were not given adequate prior warning about the firm's closure or consulted under trade union law.

One former employee complained she and her colleagues were given only 30 minutes to leave the Birmingham office after being told the business was closing.

Representing the former employees, Nuala Toner, told the tribunal that Blakemores had made no attempt to tell their staff what was happening. "They turned up for work and were virtually told to go home," she said.

Tribunal judge Ann Benson said the claims had been well founded and awarded the claimants 90 days' protective awards. The granting of protective awards payments occur when employers fail to carry out consultations with employees about impending closures in accordance with the law.

Toner commented after the hearing that between 25 and 30 former employees had made claims and that about three months' pay had been awarded with a limit of £464 a week.

She said Blakemores had been listed as the respondents but that the Secretary of State's Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, would be expected to make the awards. The department did not attend the hearing but Toner said they had not objected to the claims.

Among the claimants was Mohammed Nadeem, who had been employed as a senior caseworker by Blakemores at Great Charles Street, Birmingham. In his witness statement he commented that more than 20 employees had been affected by the firm's closure in Birmingham and complained there had been no trade union at the premises, no elected representatives and no consultation about redundancy.

"My gross salary at the time of my dismissal was £28,000 and I have calculated my protective award to be £6,924, minus £494 which I received from the redundancy payments office for arrears," he said. "I also wish to claim my notice pay of £420."

Another claimant, Laura Foxall, said she had been employed as a loyalty scheme executive on £18,000 at the Birmingham office and complained she had been dismissed without notice, holiday pay or outstanding wages. She had calculated her protective award to be £3,997 and complained about a lack of consultation by Blakemores.

Samantha Owen, who had been a £20,000+ administrator at Birmingham, said she was called to a meeting on 11 March 2013 and told the respondent was closing down and given 30 minutes to leave the building.

"We were told that we would not be paid for March, nor receive redundancy or notice pay," she said. "As there was no consultation I had no opportunity to look for another job prior to the closure. As a result of the way I was dismissed I was unable to pay my mortgage and household bills."

Peter Swingler is a freelance journalist

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Tribunals & Courts