Tribunal makes protective awards in favour of SSB staff

SSB: Staff met criteria for protective awards

An employment tribunal has made protective awards in favour of former staff of SSB Group, after they were made redundant without consultation.

Employment Judge Lancaster in Leeds said each of the nine claimants were entitled to an award for a period of 90 days beginning on 29 November 2023, when the first redundancy took place.

Nearly 200 staff were made redundant after SSB formally went into administration in January, owing six litigation funders £200m.

A protective award is compensation of between 45 and 90 days’ pay that can be awarded where more than 20 employees are made redundant from one location within specific time frames and without consultation.

If the former employer is insolvent, the Insolvency Service will pay the award, but the amount is capped at eight weeks’ pay.

Judge Lancaster said it was clear from the evidence that the employees met the criteria for a protective award.

“There has been no response submitted on behalf of [SSB], and therefore no explanation offered for the failure to consult even though it is apparent from ye papers that the business  was in financial difficulties from at least about September 2023.

“It is therefore just and equitable to make the awards for the maximum 90 day period (though it is acknowledged that under the relevant legislation [Insolvency Service] will not be obliged to make payment for that full period).”

The judge said there were other claimants in the consolidated claim who were not yet included within the term of the judgment.

The Legal Services Board is currently investigating the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s actions in the run-up to SSB’s collapse, while widespread concern continues over former SSB clients whose cavity wall insultation claims failed and after-the-event insurers refused to pay up, leaving them facing large costs claims.

We reported last month that clients were “confused and uncertain” about an insurer’s offer to stop pursuing them for costs if they assign their claims against the law firm, with solicitors advising against it.

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