An employment tribunal has ruled that 1,200 Ethel Austin staff will not receive redundancy pay.

The Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers (Usdaw) said it is “bitterly disappointed” that just 500 of 1,700 workers laid off by the clothing chain will receive a redundancy package, the BBC reported.

The tribunal in Liverpool ruled the 500 ex-workers will share “collective redundancy” worth up to £1.5m while stores which have fewer than 20 staff did not have to compensate staff.

Ethel Austin laid off 1,700 employees when it closed 186 stores earlier this year. The retailer went into administration in February 2010 and was bought by Ashloch Ltd. It continues to trade under the same name.

John Gorle, national officer at Usdaw, said: “I’m bitterly disappointed the tribunal limited the scope of the award.

“The fact that many of our members won’t be compensated just because their store had less than 20 staff is plainly wrong and shows the gaping loophole and injustice of the current legislation.”

Gorle said the union is seeking legal advice to see if it can appeal the judgement.