April 25, 2012 -- Call centre staff have been left thousands of pounds out of pocket after a businessman closed down his company amid a claim he’d had a heart attack.
Employees of Armitage Bridge company, Brightside Training Limited were left jobless when boss Ian Livingstone shut the company down on March 27.
Shocked staff, including Cowlersley woman Allison Maclean, were given their marching orders just two months after they had been taken on.
Director Ian Livingstone rang the Brooke’s Mill-based workers and reportedly told the seven-strong team he had suffered a heart attack and could no longer operate the business – but he vowed they would be paid.
Staff received their pay P45s and pay slips a few days later, but now, almost a month on, no money has been transferred to their accounts.
They are each owed more than £2,000 in wages, bonuses and holiday pay.
Allison, 43, said she had been chasing Mr Livingstone for her money but to no avail.
She said all the workers had received a letter saying he could not pay, which also advised them not to take legal action.
She said: "I loved the work and it was all going really well.
"The boss was good, he was fine and then we were told he’d had a heart attack and he didn’t come in for a few days.
"Then he phoned on March 27 and said I’m sorry but I’m going to have to wind up the business but you will all be paid. He just said because he’d had the heart attack he couldn’t carry on.
"He said there’s nothing I can do about your financial position and I advise you to go through the normal government sources.
"He also said taking legal action was likely to run up legal costs of those involved and was unlikely to succeed."
Allison, who is now relying on handouts from her parents, said she wasn’t sure if the reasons given by Mr Livingstone were genuine.
She said: "It was a big shock for everyone, it came out of nowhere and now we’re all in debt, I’ve got a mortgage to pay".
Brightside Training was involved in a Government backed scheme to try and find learners for training providers, but a spokesman for the Department of Trade and Industry said it had not received any direct funding or grants.
The Examiner understands it made money through commission from finding students for learning providers such as Kirklees College.
Allison’s former colleague, Samantha Kirkham, said solicitors had advised her it would cost thousands to try to take Mr Livingstone to court in a bid to recoup their money – something they could not afford.
She said: "An employment tribunal will only rule that we’re owed the money; it doesn’t guarantee we’ll get it.
"The only way we can guarantee getting some money is to apply for a winding up order to close the company, which costs over a thousand pounds, which will close the company and allow us to claim redundancy from the government.
"But, we don’t have any money to do this, especially being on Jobseeker’s Allowance.
"The solicitor also mentioned that I could take Ian Livingstone to County Court but there's no way I could afford the bailiff’s warrant.
"So either way all seven staff are without wages and notice pay.
"It’s very frustrating and upsetting to be in this situation."
Records lodged with Companies House reveal Mr Livingstone is the director of four other companies and has dissolved 10 others, some of which are similar training providers including, Total Solutions Learning & Development Ltd, Skills For Life (Basic Skills) Ltd, Consort Learning & Development Ltd and The Basic Skills Consultancy Ltd.
Samantha added: "As far as I am aware the rent, phone bills and pretty much every other bill was outstanding.
"We have done as much detective work as possible to get to the bottom of what is going on, but it seems Ian is no stranger to doing this."
The Examiner tried several times to contact Mr Livingstone, but he did not respond.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Date Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2012