107 ex-employees of insolvent building company, David Patton & Sons, have won their claim at the Industrial Tribunal for a ‘Protective Award’ and should receive average payments of around £2,500 each.
An award of 90 days pay was made to each employee on the basis that Pattons did not comply with their legal obligation to consult with representatives of the workforce before making them redundant. The law requires that where 20 or more persons are to be made redundant within a 90 day period the employer must consult with unions or other representatives of the employees to discuss ways to avoid or reduce the number of redundancies or to seek to lessen the negative effects of any such redundancies. If a Tribunal finds that such consultation did not take place it may make an award of up to 90 days pay to each affected employee.
John O'Neill of solicitors Thompsons NI, who had successfully brought a similar claim for 33 members of the UCATT trade union last year which led to this follow-up claim, and represented the ex-employees in this claim said:
“In a mass redundancy situation the employer must consult with employee representatives so that if possible the unions and employees can work with the employer to seek to avoid or reduce redundancies or, at the very least, be able to plan for the worst rather than to be suddenly be made redundant with little or no advance warning or consultation. If this does not happen a claim may be brought to the Industrial Tribunal for a Protective Award. If such a claim is successful, and the ex-employer is legally insolvent, as was the case with Pattons, any Tribunal award up to maximum of 8 weeks pay will be paid to each employee by the Redundancy Payments Service which is part of the Department of Employment and Learning. It is part of this decision that the time limit for any such claim by individual ex-employees does not run out until three months after the last of the workers has been made redundant. This means that there are likely to still be ex-employees of Pattons who potentially have such a claim and, if they wish to pursue any such claim, they should do so as soon as possible”.
Ballymena man, Nigel Dempey, formerly a Protect Manager in Pattons, in whose name the case was pursued said “We really had no idea that any such claim was possible until we became aware of the outcome of the first case brought by the members of UCATT trade union. This extra compensation is very helpful to myself and the others who lost their jobs with no prior warning and consultation, many of whom remain unemployed. I would like to thank Thompsons NI solicitors for all of their hard work in pursuing this case”.