Ex-employees claim they were made redundant without proper consultation

Ex-employees of the popular fashion chain Peacocks have joined forces to bring a legal challenge against the retailer amidst claims that they were ‘unceremoniously dumped’ from their jobs without notice or the correct consultation.

Part of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group which also owned other struggling brands such as Jaeger, Austin Reed and Jacques Vert, news that Peacocks had gone into administration broke in November of last year after rescue deal talks broke down.

Established in the 1880s, and based out of Cardiff, the high street retailer reportedly had around 420 stores and more than 4,300 employees at the time of its collapse.

Now, more than 40 former staff have instructed employment lawyers at Aticus Law to pursue a Protective Awards claim for compensation on their behalf, with the firm saying the number of enquiries is going up by the day.

The move will see them take the budget fashion brand to court for their case to be heard by an employment tribunal over concerns about how the redundancy process was managed.

If successful, those involved in the challenge will be entitled to up to eight weeks’ worth of pay in compensation, with a cap of £538 per week.

Hannah Stewart-MacCallum of Aticus Law, who has worked on multiple cases against other major retailers such as Debenhams, today urged others who had been affected by the company’s demise to ensure their job title was included in the legal claim to ensure they were entitled to a pay-out if it was successful.

She said: “There’s just no denying that it’s tough for retailers at the moment, and many are facing the prospect of going out of business and having to let go of staff.

“Regardless, as employers, they are still beholden to employment law. That means, if they are proposing to make more than 20 employees redundant at one establishment, they must follow the correct consultation process.

“Based on what our clients are telling us, that wasn’t necessarily the case at Peacocks.

“We are now instructed to bring a claim on behalf of 35 former employees for a Protective Award, which is basically compensation awarded by an Employment Tribunal if an employer fails in its duties.

“It’s a really vital safety net for so many families in fast-paced redundancy situations that often leave them with no source of income and absolutely no notice.

“However, many people don’t realise that you can only get a Protective Award payment if you are included as part of the claim and are listed as part of the Schedule of Claimants attached to the Tribunal Judgment.

“You can’t simply watch from the side-lines while ex-colleagues take the legal challenge forward. It’s important to make sure your name is included.”

Amongst those taking legal action is former Shipping Manager, David Kernick.

Mr Kernick, who dedicated 35 years of his life to working for the company, recalls how he received the news of his redundancy: “There was no substantial notice given – I quite literally received the email telling me that I was being made redundant on a Friday afternoon. There was a total lack of consultation, which was incredibly disappointing to see, and the whole process felt incredibly immoral and unethical.”

Mr Kernick noted that many employees who had been laid off were considerably younger than himself, with mortgages to pay and families to support.

He added: “It’s been difficult to find a new job as I’m 57 years old. With so many people being laid off, the demand is massively outstripping what’s available.”

Former Peacock employees can check whether they can make a claim using an eligibility tracker which has been developed by the firm.