A Debenhams store

400 former staff at Debenhams are set to receive around £860,000 between them after winning an employment tribunal.

Debenhams went into administration in 2020 and closed its stores after 242 on the high street. The closures led to 10,000 job losses.

At the tribunal, Debenhams was found to have failed in its duty to properly consult with staff at risk of redundancy.

The tribunal’s outcome has been welcomed by retail union USDAW.

Paddy Lillis, the union’s general secretary said: “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.”

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Image credit: Steve Parker – Creative Commons