Laid off staff from Jefferson Sheard 'still waiting' for missing pay
Sheffield-based practice Jefferson Sheard has gone into administration with former staff telling BD they are still owed thousands of pounds in wages and redundancy pay weeks after losing their jobs.
Insolvency specialist P&A Partnership was appointed administrator for Jefferson Sheard Architects (UK) Limited last Wednesday, a month after the firm made around 45 of its 50-strong workforce redundant on July 12.
Now ex-staff have raised fears they will get back just a fraction of what they are owed after it emerged that a new company, Jefferson Sheard Limited, was set up by managing director Tom Jones and fellow directors Mark Fannon and John Hyams at the end of last month.
One ex-employee, who claimed he is owed £3,500, said he had tried repeatedly to find out when he will get his money.
“I would have expected to have it by now,” he said. “It’s been more than a month but I’ve heard nothing. We’ve all taken pay cuts of up to 25% and we’ve seen people made redundant, all in the hope to keep the company going. But when it comes to the crunch we get shafted.”
In a letter sent on July 12, and seen by BD, Jones told staff that their employment was ending with “immediate effect” and added: “Details of any salary and redundancy monies due, together with payment in lieu of notice and holiday entitlement that you may have accrued but not taken, will be sent to you shortly.”
Since then former staff say they have received no further communication from the company – other than to have their P45s sent through the post.
Another former employee, who said he was still owed £2,000, added: “I’ve emailed the directors several times and not heard anything.
“It’s terrible they’ve treated us this way. We’ve done everything we can to save the company and they treat us like this. I suppose the next stage is to try and take them to the small claims court.”
He added: “The workflow just wasn’t there. Nobody was busy. If they had to make redundancies, then fine. But treat people properly.”
Jefferson Sheard was set up in 1958, and as recently as a couple of years ago it employed more than 100 people. As well as its Sheffield base it had offices in Manchester, Peterborough and Edinburgh.
The Manchester and Edinburgh offices are believed to have closed while Peterborough and Sheffield are believed to be being run on a skeleton staff. A fifth office in London, which is listed on the firm’s website as being in Gray’s Inn Road, is understood not to have been staffed for more than a year.
In the absence of any formal explanation, one former staffer said he believed the cancellation of the government’s Building Schools for the Future programme was the main reason for the decision. “I don’t think it was a case of losing jobs they were working on, it was that they lost the chance to bid for new BSF work.”
Staff were first told something was wrong two months ago when Fannon emailed staff asking them to attend a company meeting on June 11.
In his email, also seen by BD, he said the company had incurred “losses during the winter months and this has put further strains on our already overstretched financial position”.
He went on: “We have had a good trading month in May and anticipate having a further good month in June… The problem is we don’t really know if this is the start of an improving trend or whether it is just an upward blip.”
Jones declined to comment.