Former 2e2 workers WIN case for protective award

Employment tribunal rules unfair dismissal, gov to cough 8 weeks pay


An employment tribunal has ruled in favour of former 2e2 workers' claims for protective awards. A year after the saga began, hundreds are to be paid up to eight weeks' wages by the government – the maximum allowed.

There weren't many winners in the firm's collapse - save for, perhaps, the administrators - with staff out of a job, creditors out of pocket and some customers held to ransom to get access to their data stored in 2e2-run data centres.

The case was heard at Reading Employment Tribunal on 18 and 19 December, and employment judge Andrew Gumbiti-Zimuto this week found in favour of the 326 claimants that worked for 2e2 UK - one of the 10 subsidiaries put into the hands of receivers in January 2013.

The tribunal document, seen by us, shows that the judge brushed off contentions from administrator FTI, acting on behalf of 2e2 UK, that there were "special circumstances" which prevented it from consulting staff (in line with its statutory obligations), who were dismissed on 29 January and 1 February.

The judge stated he was not satisfied that the speed at which 2e2 UK went into administration, nor its indebtedness - losses of £48m in 2012 - nor customers terminating contracts, had justified that lack of consultation.

As a result, Judge Gumbiti-Zimuto concluded those staff were unfairly dismissed and should be given a "protective award of 90 days [of pay]".

As for subsequent dismissals on 6 and 8 February, "there was a failure to consult in good time", the tribunal stated, and there were no "appropriate" employee representatives elected so there was "no genuine intention to consult".

The tribunal found that while FTI had a duty to rescue the company and get a better result for creditors, "these obligations do not create a conflict with the duty to consult employees justifying abrogation of that duty".

"The tribunal makes a protective award," it stated, adding "90 days from the date of dismissal".

Jenny Andrews, of Andrews Employment Law Consultants, representing the 326 ex-2e2 UK staff, said the government offers a maximum of eight weeks of pay and the workers become unsecured creditors in their claim to the rest.

However, as we revealed in FTI's administrator's report on the 2e2 Group last summer, unsecured creditors are unlikely to receive a dividend.

As is often the case in administrations, staff leave with nothing and Andrews understandably told us, "the claimants are happy with the outcome".

There are outstanding claims against Daisy Group and O2, which acquired 2e2 UK's data centre operations and the Unify joint venture respectively. A claim has also been made against the Secretary of State for Health by staff who had been working on NHS Trust projects.

More than 30 staff are believed to be claiming over the lack of TUPE transfer in those three cases, and a Reading Employment Tribunal Court clerk told us these were to be heard in July.

Update

O2 and Daisy told us they are unable to comment on ongoing Employment Tribunal litigation. ®

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