Teachers owed up to €3000 each as school owner disappears
Case highlights shortcomings of Insolvency Payments Scheme
April 5th: Unite, which represents English Language Teachers, has written to Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty asking her to grant exceptional leave to teachers left unpaid by the closure of Limerick language school Lanlearn, and allow them to apply for assistance to the Insolvency Payments Scheme.
Approximately 10 teachers are owed up to €3000 each in unpaid wages following the sudden closure of Lanlearn and the disappearance of the school’s owner, who is thought to have left the jurisdiction.
Commenting, Unite Regional Organiser Roy Hassey said the case highlighted shortcomings in the Insolvency Payments Scheme, which can only be activated in a liquidation situation. Despite closing without notice following its removal from a Government-approved list of programmes, the school has not declared itself insolvent and no liquidator has been appointed.
“Given that the business has not declared insolvency, the school proprietor remains liable for the wages owed and other debts. However, the owner – who, according to documentation seen by Unite, bought the school for €100 in early 2017 – has effectively disappeared, changing his contact details and leaving his employees with no means of contacting him.
“The losers in this situation are the workers and other creditors: they cannot retrieve monies owed from Lanlearn’s proprietor, and are not eligible for assistance from the IPS since no insolvency has been declared or liquidator appointed.
“Given these circumstances, Unite has written to Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty asking her to make an exception and allow the teachers to apply to the scheme for assistance.
“In the longer term, we need proper regulation of ELT school management and ownership regulations, and the Insolvency Payments Scheme rules need to be reviewed to provide for cases of closure where it is not possible to pursue a business proprietor, but insolvency has not been declared”, Roy Hassey concluded.