Staff to take bosses to tribunal

Soteria House, Anwick. EMN-190521-164349001
Soteria House, Anwick. EMN-190521-164349001

Staff made redundant after a school and residential unit for children with learning, behavioural and mental health difficulties closed down are preparing to take their former employers to tribunal.

The Standard previously reported last month how In Mind children’s services, the owners of Soteria House in Anwick, had decided to close the unit and not reopen again due to financial reasons, making 57 staff redundant.

Ofsted confirmed it had suspended the registration for the children’s home over safeguarding issues on May 3.

The employers had pledged to pay staff for any time worked, but Michaela Bonomini, an independent human resources consultant had offered to represent the staff for free after their wages owed were not forthcoming.

She said after the ‘Inadequate’ Ofsted rating the children were moved off site while the homes were given a 12 week period to rectify the concerns. A number of staff were suspended and the local authority and Lincolnshire Police are investigating.

Ms Bonomini claims the total closure of the whole site by the owners was done without following due process: “On May 16 all staff were called to a consultation meeting to discuss the possibility of the site closing down due to economic reasons. By May 20 the care home staff were ordered off site after informing them they no longer had a job.”

This resulted in a peaceful ‘sit-in’ by staff demanding payment guarantees for days worked. The police were called and a manager pledged they would be paid until May 17. A collective grievance was later sent to management.

Staff then learned on May 30 that administrators Cork Gully were to be appointed and all queries regarding payments were to go through them. Staff will not receive all that is due to them unless they go through an employment tribunal, explains Ms Bonomini.

She said: “There is a complexity to the business arrangements of the owners of Soteria House Ltd. Mr Assad Amin Sheikh and Mr Amjd Jaweed Faqir own 24 businesses together. Our concern, outside of what has been done to employees, is that they operate in a sector that affects the most vulnerable of our society.”

A spokesperson for Soteria House Ltd said: “We have taken the sad decision not to re-open Soteria House for financial reasons and a liquidator, Cork Gully, has now been appointed to Sorteria House Ltd. Any future decisions regarding the facility or staff are a matter for the liquidator. We understand that this is a distressing time for everyone involved and hope that a speedy and suitable resolution can be found as quickly as possible.”