By: 17 January 2017
Employment Tribunal rules in favour of sacked Phones4U workers represented by Morrish Solicitors

Morrish Solicitors has helped over 100 former Phones4U workers to win an employment tribunal case against the defunct mobile phone provider for failing in its statutory duty to consult with them about impending redundancies.

The former workers pursued claims against the mobile phone retailer when they were made redundant following the administration of the company in September 2014. The claimants represented by Leeds-based Morrish Solicitors were all awarded 90 days’ pay on 13 January by Employment Judge Lloyd of the Midlands West Employment Tribunal. Up to eight weeks of that award can now be claimed from the Government’s Redundancy Payments Office.

Phones4U collapsed after its contracts with O2, Vodafone and EE all ended in quick succession. The O2 contract was terminated in February 2014 and Vodafone gave notice on their contract on 6 August 2014. This meant that Phones4U had become entirely dependent on the contract with EE. But on 12 September 2014, EE intimated that it would not be renewing its contract. Administrators were appointed on 15 September and mass redundancies were made just four days later.

The tribunal thought it was probable that some plan to make redundancies had been formulated between 7 August 2014 and 1 September 2014 following the notice by Vodafone to terminate its contract and the failure of further negotiations.

However, Phones4U made no attempt to consult with its employees before making 3,358 employees redundant on 19 September 2014.

Speaking at the hearing, Employment Judge Lloyd said: “There was no attempt to consult with [employees] or to elect representatives to enable such consultation to take place. No suggestion has been made that there were special circumstances that rendered such consultation not reasonably practicable, or which mitigate against the failure to do so […]

“In the absence of any evidence that points to the employer attempting to comply with its obligations or any mitigating circumstances, I conclude there are no grounds for me to reduce the same and the protective award shall therefore be the maximum of 90 days.”

Daniel Kindell, an associate at Morrish Solicitors said: “We are delighted to have been able to secure the best possible result in this case for employees at head office and the largest retail store.

“Consultation laws are designed to make sure that employees have every opportunity to feed back into the redundancy process before dismissals take effect and, if job losses can’t be avoided, to make sure as much as possible is done to minimise the impact.

“Companies that enter into administration and dispense with their staff, without advance notice or consultation, all too often have complete disregard to the impact on the individual, their families and their communities. The tribunal’s judgment recognises the severity of Phones4U’s failure to consult and we hope it gives ex-employees some sense of justice.”