The UK retail chain Woolworths collapsed over five years ago. Earlier this month, the Government revealed in Parliament that so far the Redundancy Payments Service (the part of the Insolvency Service which uses the National Insurance Fund to make certain payments to those whose employers have become insolvent) has paid a total of £59,207,942.40 to former Woolworths employees. This figure includes unpaid wages, holiday pay, redundancy pay and over £18million in protective awards for failure to collectively inform and consult on the redundancies.
The protective awards paid so far relate to the 27,000 Woolworths employees who worked in stores with 20 or more employees. However, the EAT decided that in addition to those employees, payment was also owing to the 3,233 more individuals who worked in smaller shops. The Government is appealing that part of the decision and the Court of Appeal has referred the case (now known as USDW v Ethel Austin Ltd (in administration) and another case) to the ECJ.
Until that case has been decided, employment tribunals have been staying claims for protective awards relating to workplaces with fewer than 20 redundancies, and that the RPS is therefore not paying protective awards to such employees at present.