Around a quarter of the workforce of collapsed parcel firm Tuffnells is taking legal action against their former employer over the way their redundancies were handled, according to a law firm.

Aticus Law said the number of employees had risen rapidly and currently stood at 522 who had instructed solicitors to investigate concerns around how the redundancy process was managed.

Based in Sheffield and employing more than 2,000 workers across 33 UK depots, Tuffnells Parcels Express appointed joint administrators Rick Harrison and Howard Smith of Interpath Advisory on 12 June.

The administrators said that following Tuffnells’ management buy-out in 2020, the company had been navigating “a number of pressures which have impacted trading, including the impact of Covid-19, high cost inflation and an increasingly competitive market.”

Aticus Law said it would be looking into whether ex-employees are eligible to claim for a protective award against the company, which is compensation awarded by an employment tribunal if an employer has failed in its duties.

Edward Judge, partner at Aticus Law, said: “As such a large employer with more than 2,200 members of staff, news that Tuffnells has collapsed into administration will come as a bitter blow to many, many families across the country.

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“Within a matter of hours of the announcement we were contacted by around a dozen impacted employees who raised concerns about how the redundancy process had been managed. That number has risen rapidly to more than 500, and we are now in the early stages of investigating those claims and advising our clients on their options.

“As is always the case with protective award claims, the individuals who have reached out to us for advice regarding their rights are understandably very anxious and concerned about what the future has in store for them.”

Judge continued: “Historically people were under the impression that when a business has collapsed there is nothing that can be done. However, this issue keeps hitting the headlines and, as a result, employees are far more familiar with their rights and their ability to hold the company accountable.

“That means that when a company doesn’t act in the way that it should, they are far more likely to reach out for legal advice.

“The protective award is a 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.

“We can’t stress this enough. 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.”