Trustees of defunct charity must pay former staff £5,000

An employment tribunal has ruled that trustees of the Newcastle and North Staffordshire Play Council must give redundancy pay to three ex-employees

Trustees of a defunct charity must pay three staff members thousands of pounds in redundancy pay out of their own pockets, an employment tribunal has ruled.

Newcastle and North Staffordshire Play Council, which provided breakfast and after-school clubs for children, closed because of financial difficulties in November 2008 and was removed from the Charity Commission's register in March 2009.

The tribunal in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, ruled this week that the 10 board members of the charity, which was unincorporated, must pay three claimants redundancy, holiday pay and pay in lieu of notice totalling more than £5,000.

Karen Hughes will receive £2,291.64, Maureen Hughes £1,834.02 and Karen Lee £1,012.65, plus £430 in unpaid wages.

The cases of six further claimants have been adjourned.

Paul Clisby, head of central services at Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, who spoke on behalf of the trustees at the tribunal, said afterwards that there was a lesson to be learnt for other organisations.

"I think the message would be about giving careful consideration to the legal framework you set your organisation up with," he said. Clisby said officers should ensure board members had the "appropriate training and understanding of what they are getting into".

Mr Clisby, who said the local authority would look into whether it could assist the trustees financially, said the situation was "very difficult" for them.

"Through the best of intentions, they tried to support a charity and put some of their time into it," he said. "Unfortunately, because of the way things have transpired, they are now in a difficult financial situation."

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