Court rules contractor failed to consult employees before making them redundant

Dozens of former employees of collapsed regional contractor Simons Group have been awarded compensation totalling more than £200,000 in an employment tribunal.

A court in Leicester ruled that 50 former staff members should be paid up to £4,300 each following the demise of the Lincoln-based firm, which went under in October 2019 with the loss of around 125 jobs.

The ruling found that Simons failed to comply with section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1992 by not consulting with the employees before making them redundant.

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Simons Group collapsed in October 2019 with the loss of around 125 jobs

Court documents show that the respondents conceded that there was a “failure to engage in collective consultation”.

Law firm Nualaw brought proceedings for 44 claimants on the basis of Simons’ failure to consult before terminating the employees’ jobs.

This claim was successful for 30 of the claimants. Another 12 claims were unsuccessfully defended on the grounds that they were not all in one place of work, which the administrators said was necessary for the claim to proceed.

The administrators had argued that the field-based employees needed to be assigned to a place of work with more than 20 employees. This was rejected by Judge Ahmed, who said that ‘field-based’ was a job description rather than a place of work.

The remaining six claimants, who were mainly HR and senior management staff, successfully represented themselves.

Although the judge awarded 90 days for each claimant, the payout was limited to eight weeks’ pay at a maximum of £544 per week.

The money is paid from the national insurance fund via the Redundancy Payments Service, which acts under the authority of secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy Kwasi Kwarteng.

Established in 1944, Simons was led by chief executive Tom Robinson for five years before its collapse.

Robinson, who stepped down from the role two days after administrator FRP Advisory were called in, had previously worked at Carillion for 21 years.

In its last set of accounts, Simons posted a pre-tax profit of £704,000 on turnover of £104.5m in the year to March 2018.