This week marks the 5th anniversary of our unfair dismissal from our former employer, Hagthorne Cottage Nurseries Limited, Lucas Green Road, West End, Woking, Surrey.
Our former employer, for simplicity we will call HCNL decided to dismiss us, we do not know why. Steve worked for them between October 1987 and May 1995, and was invited back in June 2001 and employed as Nursery Manager. Tina was employed from July 2001.
As a part of being re-employed we were offered a 50% share of the company after 3 years if we achieved a target, a turnover of one million. When we joined the turnover was around 300k, and after two years we had increased this to around 830k.
Steve had known the owner/Director Mr Richard Bos for around 20 years, and I guess trusted him. As a result, to help build the business and achieve the targets, we made an interest free loan to the company of 60k. In addition we paid for the many customer trips to visit Nurseries in Italy, along with buying office and computer equipment for the company, some 30K in total.
Following our dismissal in August 2003 HCNL did not repay any of our monies loaned. Following legal advice we sort a claim for unfair dismissal which was presented at the end of November 2003. An Employment Tribunal date was set for February 2004, we received HCNL statement the evening before.
The Tribunal was aborted due to mistakes made by both HCNL and the Tribunal itself and awarded £1,300 costs, 50% from each, these have never been paid. A new Tribunal date was arranged for May 2004.
In early April 2004 a new company was registered at Companies House called Hagthorne Nurseries Limited, with the same Directors as HCNL, Mr Bos and his wife, Enid.
Around 23rd April 2004 we were advised that HCNL had gone into administration and the stock, assets and goodwill had been sold to the new company Hagthorne Nurseries Limited.
In May 2004 our re-arranged Tribunal went ahead. After a 3 hour hearing it was a unaminous decision that we had been unfairly dismissed. Steve was awarded £28,670, Tina £19,983.26 along with the award of £1,000 costs. A total award of £49,653.26.
Five years later our neither our award nor our monies loaned to HCNL as employees has been paid.
We are aware, and have emails confirming that Mr Bos personally requested some creditors of HCNL to re-invoice Hagthorne Nurseries Limited, and were paid in full by the new company.
Over the last 5 years we have tried every legal route to recover our monies owed. Sadly it is legal that companies can do this to their own workers.
We would be interested to hear any views on this.