A total of 419 former Debenhams employees who were made redundant following the retailer’s collapse have won a legal battle after a tribunal judge ruled Debenhams had “failed in its duty to consult with its staff”.

Debenhams closure

Debenhams announced the closure of all its stores in December 2020

Debenhams hit the headlines in April 2020 when it was revealed the former high street retailer was struggling and later confirmed the closure of its branches that December.

Following the department store chain’s collapse, more than 800 staff impacted by the announcement instructed employment law firm Simpson Millar to pursue legal action following claims that redundancy consultation processes were not properly adhered to.

Simpson Millar announced yesterday that the employment tribunal had ruled in favour of the claimants, with the value of the claim anticipated to be around £860,000, as reported by the Evening Standard.

Simpson Millar lawyer Amanda McKinley said: “We are delighted to have now received the first judgment in relation to the protective award claim on behalf of a significant number of our clients who were affected by redundancies when Debenhams entered into administration in 2020.

“In this case, the employment tribunal judge has ruled that the retailer failed in its duty under UK employment law legislation to carry out proper consultation with staff at risk of redundancies, and the outcome of the legal action now paves the way to secure a payout in the form of a protective award for our clients, which is expected to be in the region of £860,000.”

“As a result of the employment tribunal judgments, our clients will now be compensated by up to 90 days’ gross pay, albeit capped at £4,304 given that the company is insolvent.

“The National Insurance fund, which employees pay into, is a lifebelt for many people who find themselves in such circumstances, and, in this instance, our clients are delighted that the matter is now coming to a close so that they can finally move forward with their lives.”

The law firm currently represents an additional 475 clients who are bringing a protective award claim from the redundancy payments service against Debenhams, but final conclusions are yet to be revealed on that.