More than 600 former Phones 4u employees are demanding hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation from Phones 4u for failing to consult with staff before making mass redundancies last year.
The claims follow the sudden collapse of Phones 4u last September, which saw more than 550 stores closed overnight and more than 2,500 staff made redundant. Another 2,000 staff were transferred to Vodafone, EE and Dixons Carphone after the three businesses took over 358 Phones 4u stores and concessions.
Mobile has learnt that at least 600 former Phones 4u employees are claiming Protective Award compensation via Phones 4u’s administrators PWC on the grounds that the retailer failed in its statutory duty to consult with the Phones 4u workforce before announcing mass redundancies and transfers.
Under UK employment law, an employer has a duty to collectively inform and consult with employees when it proposes to make 20 or more employees redundant, or when it plans to transfer employees to other businesses. The 600-plus Phones 4u claimants argue that the company and its administrators failed to do this.
If their claims are successful, Phones 4u’s administrators could be forced to pay up to 90 days’ gross pay to each claimant, amounting to hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation. The Protective Award is paid in addition to any redundancy and notice pay.
Unless Phones 4u’s administrators decide to settle the claims out of court they will be heard by the Employment Tribunal in Birmingham later this year. Mobile understands the court case has been delayed by the sheer number of claims from former Phones 4u employees – estimated to be between 600 and 700 – which the Employment Tribunal is currently processing.
More than 820 former Phones 4u employees have joined the Facebook group Phones 4u ET1A Collective, dedicated to bringing Protective Award claims against the company. Another 212 former Phones 4u staff are being represented by Morrish Solicitors in Leeds, which recently won a similar case on behalf of former 2e2 employees.
Morrish employments rights solicitor Christopher Ridley told Mobile: ‘It appears that Phones 4U Limited completely failed to comply with its statutory duty to inform and consult its workforce prior to making mass redundancies when it entered administration. It is for this reason that my firm is bringing a multiple, punitive, ‘Protective Award’ action on behalf of 212 former employees. If successful, the Employment Tribunal will award up to 90 days’ gross pay per former employee.
‘Although such an award will not adequately compensate each individual for the stress and upset caused by their sudden dismissals, it is at least hoped that it would go some way to lessening the financial burden caused by Phones 4 U’s decision to dismiss, in breach of employment rights.’
Phones 4u’s administrators PWC declined to comment.