Debenhams – How their recent announcement signals change in the retail sector and how this might affect you.

Debenhams’ recent announcement that it would be closing 22 stores, a decision affecting 1,200 staff, is the latest in a string of casualties of once-giant high street names struggling to keep-up with the changing world of retail in the 21st century.

Dubbed the ‘Amazon Effect’ more people buying online means that big names continue to close.  As a result, retail employees as a share of Britain’s workers has dived by 12% since 2003 and the sector is now suffering from a higher rate of redundancies than any other industry. This means that while headlines focus on the loss of big names from the high-street, continued redundancies in this sector have a huge impact on individual workers.

Redundancy can occur in three different circumstances; when an entire business shuts down, when one site or branch of a business closes, or when a business no longer needs work of a particular kind to be done. An employer may make redundancies for a huge variety of reasons. Whether dismissals can have the statutory definition of redundancy applied to them is extremely important, mainly because employees being made redundant may be entitled to a redundancy payment.

That being said, it can be extremely difficult to know if what your business or your employer’s business faces is classed as a ‘redundancy situation.’ This means that it is important in every case to consider what the law states on redundancy, as this is a common area of dispute between employers and employees. It is also vital that even if the situation does count as a redundancy, any termination of employment must be handled correctly in order to avoid any chance of an unfair dismissal.

If you own a business, in the retail sector or elsewhere, in which employees may face redundancy, or if you are an employee in the retail sector who fears being made redundant, please contact our employment team on 0161 926 1508.