Leamington solicitors’ staff to get pay out

A solicitor and legal assistant who lost their jobs when a leading solicitors firm in Leamington went into administration are in line for a share of a total of more than £180,000.

Solicitor Jane Sabin of High Street, Napton and Shelley De Worringham of Cromwell Lane, Burton Green, near Kenilworth, had been employed by Blakemores of Clarendon Place, Leamington, which went into administration last year facing financial problems.

Now a Birmingham Employment Tribunal has approved 90 days pay totalling more than £180,000, for up to 30 former employees from Leamington and the firm’s Birmingham branch, after they complained they were not given adequate prior warning about the firm’s closure or consulted under employment law.

The payments are legally known as “protective awards” and are granted when employers have failed to carry out consultations with employees about impending closures in accordance with the law.

Nuala Toner, representing the former employees, 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.

Miss Toner said after the hearing that up to 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 Miss Toner said they had not objected against the claims.

Miss Worringham said in her witness statement to the tribunal that she was among 20 employees affected by the closure.

“Prior to my dismissal there was no consultation about redundancy,” she said. “In fact the Leamington branch was recruiting for a legal assistant only a few days before the firm closed down. I was dismissed from the respondent without being paid notice pay accrued holiday pay or outstanding wages. My gross pay had been £16,830 and I have calculated my award to be £3, 707.”

Miss Sabin who was paid a salary of £21,889, said in her witness statement that there had been no consultation about redundancy.

“I was dismissed from the respondent without being paid notice pay, holiday pay or outstanding wages,” she said.

Miss Sabin said her protective claim was for £4,849 after since receiving a gross payment of £564 from the redundancy payments office for pay arrears.