Workers made redundant - then left stranded in Hampshire

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Model poses as redundant employee

Salespeople for Thomson Local telephone directories received an email late on Tuesday, calling them to an emergency meeting at the company's headquarters in Farnborough in Hampshire the following day. Many drove across the country from as far afield as Devon and Leeds, to be told they were being made redundant.

And to make matters worse, many had no way of getting home.


Stranded

Around 170 staff were called to the meeting. They discovered that because the company had gone into administration they were being made redundant with immediate effect. The news was broken not by their bosses, but by the administrators.

They said that this came as a complete shock, although they knew the company was up for sale. However, with losses of £4.5 million in the first six months of the year, the firm ran out of options and called in Grant Thornton as administrators.

To add insult to injury, according to the Daily Mail, they were instructed to leave all company property at the site - including company mobile phones and company cars. This left them with no way to drive home, and no way to contact anyone to come and get them.

The staff ended up on public transport, travelling to Manchester in one case, and North Wales in another.

What are your rights?

It seems shocking, but the administrators acted within their rights. They are entitled to make as many redundancies as necessary in the first two weeks of the process - with immediate effect.

When a company goes into administration and you lose your job, you are no longer entitled to any benefits from the company - including the car, laptop and the mobile phone - and you will have to hand them back.

In some instances these are leased off other companies, who will want them back immediately when the company is no longer in a position to pay its bills. In some instances these items are owned by the company and it will want to collect them back in so it can identify the assets it has to balance against its debts.

If the car is not reclaimed immediately, you will need to contact the company anyway. There's a real risk you will be driving uninsured if the insurance company has cancelled the cover, so you won't be able to drive it even if you haven't handed the keys back.

Clearly, in this instance, the thoughtless way the redundancy was carried out was lamentable. However, the administrators did follow the letter of the law.

The good news for the firm is that the BBC has reported that the company found a buyer within hours of going into administration, which will save 340 of the remaining jobs. The directories will continue to be published as normal - and the acquiring company will work on bringing the digital side of the business up to scratch.

The news for those made redundant is going to be less positive.

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