Redundant Selkirk workers say they were told to leave company premises without prior notice

Angry workers facing uncertain futures after the shock collapse of a Selkirk energy firm are to pursue legal action for compensation.

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 11:52 am
South of Scotland Enterprise chairman Russel Griggs with People’s Energy founders Davi Pike and Karen Sode.

The People’s Energy Company, on Ettrick Riverside, ceased trading on Tuesday, September 14, and it is believed that around 85 employees have lost their jobs.

The business was created to eradicate fuel poverty by providing the cheapest possible energy via a social enterprise that would return 75 per cent of the profits to its members.

But the company has folded after it failed to agree terms with major energy providers.

Now employees are launching legal action, claiming the redundant energy supplier failed to properly consult over the redundancy process.

Manchester-based law firm Aticus Law has said it has already been contacted by a more than a dozen former employees affected by the collapse of the energy supplier who are looking to take legal action.

Workers say they had been ‘summoned into the office’ on Tuesday to be told their jobs had been lost.

According to one member of staff in Selkirk, who does not want to be named, they were told to collect their things and leave the premises with immediate effect.

If successful, those involved in the challenge will be entitled to claim a Protective Award which is up to eight weeks’ worth of pay in compensation, with a cap of £544 per week.

Mohammed Balal of Aticus Law, has urged others who had been affected by the collapse of People’s Energy to ensure their job title was included in the legal action, and by checking whether they are eligible to make a claim.

He said: “It is incredibly sad to read about the collapse of People’s Energy as it is likely to affect hundreds of thousands of people who use the businesses to supply the energy to their homes. However, there are many members of staff who are also impacted as a result of redundancy.

“Based on what our clients are telling us, many were called into the office and told that their jobs had been lost with immediate effect. They have literally had their lives turned upside down and are understandably feeling very anxious and concerned about what the future holds.

“While many people think that as the business has collapsed there is nothing that can be done, those affected actually have the right to hold the company accountable. Under the current employment law if a business is making more than 20 employees redundant at one establishment, they must follow the correct consultation process.

“We’re obviously in the very early stages of understanding what happened in this instance, based on what our clients are telling us, that didn’t happen at People’s Energy.”

Mohammed said the firm is now investigating whether there are grounds to claim for a Protective Award, which is basically compensation awarded by an Employment Tribunal if an employer fails in its duties.

He added: “It’s a really vital safety net for so many families in fast-paced redundancy situations that often leave them with no source of income and absolutely no notice.

“However, many people don’t realise that you can only get a Protective Award payment if you are included as part of the claim and are listed as part of the Schedule of Claimants attached to the Tribunal Judgment.

“You can’t simply watch from the side-lines while ex-colleagues take the legal challenge forward. It’s important to make sure your name and specific job title is included.”