STAFF made redundant from scandal-hit clinical waste firm Healthcare Environmental Services are taking legal action over allegations of an illegal failure to consult over their redundancies.

The Shotts-based firm announced to 350 staff including 150 staff in Scotland, two weeks ago that it had ceased operations after losing its NHS contract in Scotland served all its staff with redundancy notices. Workers based in Scotland say they were shocked by the announcement as there been no consultation.

HES stopped serving the NHS in Scotland last month after being plunged into financial difficulty in the wake of allegations of stockpiling hundreds of tonnes of waste at its sites. It has steadfastly denied they included body parts.

The Environment Agency (EA) started a criminal investigation after the company breached storage limits.

A workers group has told the Herald that they will be seeking compensation in connection with an alleged breach of their employment rights at future tribunals.

It comes as it emerged that clinical waste from health boards across Scotland is now being imported to Shetland for burning in Lerwick’s incinerator in an effort to help ease a national backlog.

READ MORE: Staff anger at denial of lost wages after collapse of Scots firm in clinical waste scandal

Under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act where an employer proposes to make 20 or more employees at one establishment redundant within a period of 90 days or less, it is required to consult with appropriate representatives of the affected employees.

Consultation must begin in good time, and at least 45 days before the first dismissal takes effect in the case of 100 or more dismissals, or at least 30 days in all other cases.

HES announced it had ceased operations after losing its NHS contract in Scotland and others south of the border and told workers to claim statutory redundancy from the Redundancy Payment Service.

Staff were told they were being made redundant in a letter to staff from managing director Garry Pettigrew, who said: “The company very much regrets that it has become necessary to make redundancies and that you have been affected.


“I would like to offer my sincere apology in this regard and to thank you for your hard work and contribution to the company during your employment.”

The letter, which was shared on social media, claimed a bank had withheld funds "due to pressure from political and market perception of our company". HES blamed a shortage of incinerators led to a backlog problem and blamed "unfair Government pressure" on the business.

One of the staff members who are part of the Help Us Healthcare group who will be making a protective award claim said: "We didn't even get a meeting over redundancy. We will make the claim through the tribunal."

A Shott-based worker said: "To have us work up to 4pm on Christmas Eve, surely knowing that on the 27th they would make us redundant, is appalling. "We got a phone call from the office manager on Boxing Day to say that there was a meeting at 9am the following day and that's when we got told, with no notice at all, you are made redundant. I feel they have really done the dirty on us."

Mr Pettigrew, the company's managing director, blamed the UK government for HES going out of business. He has not yet responded to the claims of the former workers.

Staff earlier this week appealed to their former employer to pay their lost wages after the Insolvency Service rejected many of their claims.

In guidance published on last week, the Insolvency Service said it could pay a maximum of £508 a week in redundancy to anyone who had worked for the company for at least two continuous years under a contract of employment.