Employees win over lack of redundancy consultation

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7th Sep 2010
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About 60 workers made redundant in January after their employer went into liquidation have been awarded 90 days’ back pay due to inadequate consultation over the situation.

 
Electrical contractors J&G Engineering had debts of around £2.3 million when it went into liquidation just after Christmas.
 
But Unite brought a case against it because staff were not given prior warning that they were about to lose their jobs. An industrial tribunal has now backed the union’s claim that the firm had breached its duty to consult with them.
 
According to the BBC, the tribunal found that J&G Engineering had taken “no steps at all to provide any consultation” and ruled that there was “no evidence of any special circumstances in existence to mitigate the failure”.
 
Unite representative Jackie Pollock said: “The tribunal agreed that J&G Engineering had failed to consult with workers. The Department of Employment & Learning will now pay up to eight weeks pay to the former workers at J&G.”
 
The company reportedly had cash flow problems, which meant that it no longer had sufficient funds to pay staff, although it had assets worth almost £750,000 to pay preferential creditors.
 
In news elsewhere, a former NHS boss has been awarded £1.2 million after being unfairly dismissed for whistleblowing.
 
Earlier this year, an employment tribunal in Exeter ruled that John Watkinson, former chief executive of the Royal Cornwall and Hospital Trust, had been sacked unfairly and should receive £67,250 after his employer failed to follow proper dismissal procedures. It has now awarded him an additional £1.2 million for the whistleblowing element of his claim.
 
The tribunal criticised the fact that key witnesses from the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) were not called to give live evidence and that witnesses from the Trust “appeared to be unable or unwilling to give straightforward answers to simple questions”.
 
The compensation award is now subject to appeal by both the Trust and the SHA.
 
Watkinson, who earned £148,000 per annum, was suspended in 2008 over alleged concerns about his management activity. But he claimed that he was later sacked because he was to make public legal advice that suggested transferring cancer services outside the county was unlawful without a public enquiry.
 
Compensation for a successful whistleblowing claim is unlimited and in this case, the statutory cap for unfair dismissal compensation did not apply.

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