Shearings staff launch legal action following company’s collapse

Workers who lost their jobs when Wigan-based coach holiday provider Shearings went into administration have begun the process of taking legal action against the company over allegations that it failed to properly consult staff when making redundancies.

Shearings Holidays was one of the most prominent coach tour operators in the UK and around 2,500 jobs have been lost following its collapse, with a significant proportion at its headquarters in Wigan.

A number of those ex-employees have now instructed employment law experts at Simpson Millar to begin investigations to enable legal action to be brought in order to secure a Protective Award – a payment awarded by an Employment Tribunal in cases where an employer fails to follow the correct procedure when making 20 or more redundancies.

Where an Employment Tribunal finds in favour of the employees they will be able to access the funds via the Government Insolvency Service.

Simpson Millar, which has offices in Lancaster, Southport, Liverpool and Manchester, has received more than 100 enquiries from those who have been affected by the company’s administration.

Aneil Balgobin, an employment law expert at the firm, said: “The current situation is making it difficult for many companies across most industries and it is no surprise that leisure and travel firms are being significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Sadly, the collapse of Shearings has left many employees out of work with little more than a moment’s notice and unable to find alternative work given the current climate.

“However, while some companies are struggling as a result of the Government’s lockdown rules, 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 claim for compensation.

“To that end, we’ve been contacted by several former Shearings employees and are now investigating whether there are grounds to pursue a claim for what is known as a Protective Award on their behalf.”

Aneil added: “If successful the legal action could see them compensated by up to 90 days’ gross pay, albeit capped at £4,304, given that the company is in administration.

“To be entitled to this, formal legal action must be brought against Shearings and an Employment Tribunal Judgment obtained which will rule on whether there was a failure by the employer to follow the correct procedure when making the redundancies.”

Simpson Millar’s leading employment law team is currently instructed by former employees affected by the collapse of a number of well-known businesses including Thomas Cook, Mothercare, Bathstore and Jamie’s Italian.

Last year, the firm announced that it had secured payments on behalf of 103 ex-Multiyork staff amounting to £300,000.

The team is also pursing claims in relation to Flybe, British Midland International (Fly BMI), Canute Logistics, Dawnus Construction Holdings, Trust Medical, Jamie Oliver Restaurants and many others.

Aneil said: “When people are made redundant the first thing they normally do is look for another job, but in the current climate new jobs are very rare, so people are having to prioritise taking measures like applying for universal credit and mortgage holidays in order to be able to survive financially.

“While the process to claim for a Protective Award will not result in an influx of cash immediately, legal protection remains in place to support people who are made redundant without being taken through the correct consultation process, and the money recovered in successful claims will provide some longer term security for those affected.”