Law firms claim that more than 150 former Arcadia staff are seeking compensation after being made redundant following the firm’s collapse into administration and the subsequent buy-out of its brands by Asos and Boohoo.
Two firms, Aticus Law and Simpson Millar, say that employees at Miss Selfridge, Topshop, Topman, Wallis, Burton and Dorothy Perkins were not properly consulted with before being made redundant and could be entitled to up to eight weeks’ pay.
An employer is legally required to collectively consult with employees for at least 30 days if it is proposing to make more than 20 employees redundant within a 90 day period. This obligation still applies when an organisation is in administration.
Up to 12,000 people will lose their jobs after the brands, but not stores, were sold to the online fashion giants. Asos bought Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge and activewear brand HIIT for £330m earlier this month, while Boohoo completed a £25.2m deal that covered the remaining brands.
Former Arcadia Group staff claim that they only learnt they had lost their jobs after seeing reports in the media.
Another press release before staff are told? So many job losses, this time my sister is included. Cannot stress enough how transferable retail skills are, pls give former Arcadia staff a shot #Arcadia https://t.co/Y3NzUEEKld
— Jess Page (@jessicaruthpage) February 8, 2021
Aticus Law said it had around 150 potential claimants who wanted to pursue an employment tribunal case for failure to properly consult, while Simpson Millar has signed up 10 claimants.
Damian Kelly, head of employment law at Simpson Millar, said: “The current situation is making it difficult for many companies across most industries and it is no surprise that retail giants – and particularly those that are so reliant on high street or shopping centre footfall – are being significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
“While some companies are struggling because of the pandemic, they still have a duty under current employment law legislation to carry out a proper consultation with staff at risk of redundancies. Where that does not happen, employees can bring a claim for a protective award.”
Arcadia Group’s administrator, Deloitte, said it would be inappropriate for it to comment on the employee consultation process but recognised it was a difficult time for those affected by job losses.
Shopworkers’ union Usdaw said the administrator had refused to engage with the union, and described the sale of the brands as “another devastating blow for our high streets”.
“Usdaw is the trade union for Arcadia staff and they must be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. We continue to provide our members with the support, advice and legal representation they need at this very difficult time,” said national officer Dave Gill.
“What retail needs is a joined up strategy of unions, employers and government working together to develop a recovery plan. Usdaw has long called for an industrial strategy for retail, as part of our ‘Save our Shops’ campaign, to help a sector that was already struggling before the coronavirus emergency.”
Usdaw has called for an online sales tax to help level the playing field between online and high street retailers and an extension of the business rates holiday beyond March.