Guildford Debenhams
Image Source: Matt Brown
Chloe Shakesby

Hundreds of former employees take legal action against Debenhams following mass redundancies

More than 600 former Debenhams workers have come together to take legal action against the retailer regarding its redundancy processes.

Debenhams went into administration four months ago, and announced that thousands of jobs would be cut due to the impact of lockdown.

National law firm Simpson Millar said that since April, it has been contacted by hundreds of former employees with allegations of the company’s failure to properly consult staff regarding the mass redundancies.

The firm has begun investigations to enable appropriate legal action to be brought in order to secure a Protective Award on their behalf.

Deana Bates, an employment law expert at Simpson Millar, commented: “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, the closure of certain stores and HQ job cuts has left many employees out of work with little or no notice, at a time when it’s going to be very challenging to find alternative work.

“However, 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.”

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.

She 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, so 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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