'You can't imagine what the last 15 months have been like': Mad Hatters café boss ordered to pay former staff responds to tribunal ruling

The boss of a Longton café who was found guilty of making unlawful reductions from staff's wages and ordered to pay unfair dismissal costs has spoken out publicly about the difficulties of the pandemic.

By James Holt
Monday, 31st May 2021, 12:57 pm
Updated Monday, 31st May 2021, 1:00 pm

Ms Jayne Flanagan, the owner of Mad Hatters Cafe in Longton, was ordered to give her former employees unpaid wages and redundancy payouts after they took her to Employment Tribunal.

Single mum-of-one Chelcie Thompson was found to have been unfairly dismissed from the cafe and was owed more than £2,000 in unfair dismissal and redundancy pay, as other ex-employee Jade Metcalf was owed £1,012 of wages from January last year - but claims she wasn't paid until a gruelling 14 months later.

The Post approached Ms Jayne Flanagan for a response on multiple occasions but she declined to comment and instead took to her social media page to respond to the ruling but has since removed it from Facebook.

The Mad Hatters Cafe in Longton

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A post shared publicly read: "We understand there has been some coverage regarding recent employment tribunals. As with anything, there are two sides to every story and we felt it was best that we issued a fair response to offer some clarity.

"We understand there is a lot of sensitivity around the issue in question, but we feel recent threats made against the business are not entirely fair, especially when the matters have been resolved through a court of law.

Jade (left) and Chelcie (right) claim they fought for what they were owed and took Ms Flanagan to Employment Tribunal

"You can't even imagine what the last 15 months have been like as a business owner, particularly in the hospitality industry with the uncertainty, fear and the not knowing when you are next opening and being made to close for long periods of time.

"Nothing can prepare you for this uncertainty in what have been very unchartered and challenging times with no money coming into the business."

The post went on to add that both Chelcie and Jade were "highly valued" members of staff and had been let go from the business following hard decisions made as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

She also claimed she had not "withheld" any payments from the two girls and added that the pandemic was the reason for the situations taking longer to be resolved and that both of them had since been paid the full amounts they were owed.

The response by the cafe has since been deleted

But the two former colleagues have since been encouraging other workers to stand up for their employment rights after they say they were forced to take their old boss to court over money they had waited more than a year for.

After being made redundant without receiving payment from the cafe she had worked at for more than five years, Chelcie took Ms Flanagan to an employment tribunal, where she was ordered to pay more than £2,000 to her within two weeks.

The decision of the tribunal found that single mum Chelcie, from Penwortham, had been unfairly dismissed and was owed £951 for an ‘unfair dismissal’, along with a £1,188.95 redundancy payout and £71.34 for holiday hours that she had accrued.

She told the Post she was applying for a county court judgement to continue fighting for the money, but after the Lancashire Post made contact with owner Ms Flanagan last week, the full sum was deposited into her account.

She said: "For a year I have just wanted this to end. It has been so unfair because I deserved to get the money I was owed, and it hurts to have been treated like this by people you have worked for and supported for so long.

“I have struggled so much over this past year, it is just awful. I tried to do the right thing and was punished, and as a single mum, I was left suffering."

And colleague Jade, 23, who left Mad Hatter's in January 2020 was found to have had her wages unlawfully deducted by Ms Flanagan, but still didn't receive her final payment until 14 months later.

She added: "Throughout the process, I stuck to my guns and for what I knew I was entitled to, and would encourage anyone else in this situation to do the same.

"It has been a very stressful process and there were times that I thought I wasn’t going to get anywhere, but I knew I wanted the money that was owed to me and I want other people to know that they can do the same if this happens to them.”

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