Former Thomas Cook staff lose redundancy consultation claim

Hundreds of former Thomas Cook shop staff have been denied compensation for the company’s failure to consult them on redundancy before they lost their jobs.

An employment tribunal in Manchester ruled against ordering a ‘protective award’ of up to £4,200 to almost 130 former retail staff despite granting the award to 23 ex-regional managers.

The claim by the TSSA union and several individual ex-staff was for an award under the 1992 Trade Union and Labour Relations Act, which requires employers to consult unions, staff representatives or employees if dismissing 20 or more staff at ‘an establishment’.

Thomas Cook employed 21,000 people when it went into liquidation on September 23, 2019, with several thousand working across its 553 shops.

The tribunal judge accepted Cook failed to consult its shopworkers and that ex-Cook airport workers and head office employees had received protective awards, as had former staff at Cook stores in Leeds, Sheffield and Gateshead which employed more than 20 staff apiece.

The TSSA also gave evidence that Cook had consulted staff on redundancies by region during reorganisations, and that the claimants worked in stores assigned to a region.

However, the tribunal found the claimants worked at individual stores assigned to a region, with each shop constituting an ‘establishment’ with fewer than 20 employees. It concluded “there was no duty to consult” the shop staff but “there was a duty” to consult the regional managers, meaning the latter were entitled to protective awards.

One claimant, who wished to remain anonymous, told Travel Weekly: “We were told the business would be saved. Then I was woken at 3am in the morning to learn it had gone. It was a horrible few weeks. We were at the forefront of dealing with customers. A lot of people went through a lot of trauma. We were all gutted.

“We were due 12 weeks’ money [for the lost consultation]. It was a lot of money to a lot of people.”

However, the claimant said “a lot of people gave up” before the tribunal heard the claim.

A tribunal hearing in March last year resulted in up to 1,500 ex-Cook employees in London, Manchester and Peterborough being awarded up to £4,200 each for Cook’s failure to consult before making redundancies.

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