Hundreds of former Arcadia staff are lining up to claim compensation after being made redundant following the collapse of Sir Philip Green’s fashion empire.
Two no-win no-fee legal firms say they have already gathered almost 200 potential claimants who they say may not have been properly consulted before losing their jobs.
Aticus Law has at least 150 potential claimants lined up while Simpson Millar has already signed up 10 claimants from across the Arcadia Group, and had enquiries from dozens more.
Usdaw, the shopworkers union, said it was consulting with members and would consider seeking compensation for those affected. The union is already backing a similar claim for former Debenhams workers.
Up to 12,000 people are set to lose their jobs at Arcadia after its main brands, Topshop, Topman, Miss Selfridge, Wallis, Burton and Dorothy Perkins, were sold off to online specialists Asos and Boohoo who have not taken on the group’s hundreds of stores.
There is a legal duty to consult collectively with staff in shops or other locations where more than 20 redundancies are made.
Workers who were not properly consulted are entitled to a “protective award” of up to 90 days’ wages, capped at £4,353 each, if an employment tribunal finds that a company has not conducted a proper consultation process with them ahead of their dismissal.
Damian Kelly, head of employment law at Simpson Millar, said: “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.”
Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk
Deloitte, which is handling the administration of Arcadia, said: “It would be inappropriate for us to comment on the employee consultation process. However, we absolutely recognise it is a very difficult time for all those impacted by the administration of the group.”
Lawyers have previously won protective claims for workers at BHS, which collapsed in 2016, and electrical goods chain Comet, which collapsed in 2012 as well as numerous other collapsed firms. The complex claims, which begin with an application to conciliation before Acas before usually going to tribunal, can take up to two years to reach conclusion.
The claims against collapsed businesses are usually met by the government-backed Redundancy Payments Service, part of the Insolvency Service, rather than the companies themselves.