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Firm that made staff redundant by text “broke law”

Employment: No proper warning of redundancy

A law firm that made its staff redundant by text message has been ordered by an employment tribunal to make a protective award of 90 days’ pay to one of them.

Oldham firm Broadway Legal – which specialised in personal injury and immigration work – was closed down by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) on 22 November 2018, and put into a creditors voluntary liquidation the following month.

One of its 21 employees brought a tribunal claim for a protective award in respect of breach of the collective consultation requirements.

The tribunal can make such an award, of up to 90 days’ gross pay, when an employer dismisses 20 or more staff on the grounds of redundancy without collectively informing and consulting them.

Regional Employment Judge Jonathan Parkin held last week that “there was no proper warning or notice given to or consultation with the workforce” of Broadway Legal.

He continued: “No employee representatives had been elected or appointed for any such consultation. All the claimant was notified was that he should not attend for work on 12 November 2018, by text on 11 November, but that there would be a meeting on 14 November.

“In the event, that meeting was cancelled and, on about 15 November 2018, the claimant was told he had been made redundant as of 9 November.

“Other dismissals were put into effect at about the same time and there was no attempt to provide information or collective consultation.”

As a result, the firm was in breach of its duty under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, and the tribunal awarded the claimant the maximum protected period of 90 days, commencing on 9 November 2018.

The firm did not submit a response to the claim.

The SRA intervened in Broadway – which was run by Farooq Rafiq – on the grounds of his “failure to comply with rules and that it was necessary to intervene to protect the interests of clients or former clients”.

He is currently allowed to practise as a solicitor, subject to SRA approval, but not manage or own a law firm.

A statement of affairs lodged with Companies House by liquidator Begbies Traynor in December said Broadway had £888,000 of creditors – mainly dozens of medical report agencies, but also staff – but that it hoped to realise £800,000 from £1m of work in progress.