Treating trainees like muck - it's the Metamorph way!
The Managing Partner of a firm in the flailing Metamorph group told trainee solicitors whose contracts were being terminated and who had not been paid in months that they had made "no contribution" to his business.
As their original firms collapsed in the face of winding up petitions, around ten trainees were transferred in November to Parrott & Coales, one of Metamorph's few surviving firms following the SRA's belated interventions.
Richard Sauvain, the Managing Partner of Parrott & Coales, admitted to trainees in the email that "I am dealing with an impossible situation here in the absence of any central Metamorph services", referring to the sudden closure of much of the group's payroll and HR functions when the official receiver was called in late last year.
In the email, sent this week and leaked to ROF, Sauvain said he was "facing enormous pressures in the day to day running of Parrott & Coales", but appeared to attack the trainees for demanding to know why they have been unpaid for months and then sacked by the business that was supposed to be training them.
"Whilst I am sympathetic to your position and indeed all staff in the Metamorph Group who have not been paid you are all aware that the reality is that you have never worked in any practical sense at Parrott & Coales and you have made no contribution to the work we need to do here to keep the firm going", he said.
Sauvain told the trainees, "I am trying to find out exactly how much each of you are owed and how we can produce a P45 for you".
It's not me, it's you.
A source close to the trainees said, "He's never asked for those affected to work or provide any support", and that the trainees had been "just cast to one side".
Sauvain told RollOnFriday, "The trainees were working for the Metamorph Group firms in Sale and Shrewsbury. These firms have all been closed so there is no work for them. We are a small firm in Buckinghamshire and we are trying very hard to keep going".
"I am not part of Metamorph central services or senior management so you will have to ask them about the decision to transfer the trainees". Metamorph management did not respond to a request for comment.
The majority of the refugee trainees have not been paid since November, and their shoddy treatment is of a piece with the calamity that has befallen dozens of Metamorph staff.
A source told ROF that the trainees' attempts to find out what was going on were stonewalled by Sauvain and Metamorph director Simon Goldhill, and that their receptionists "interrogated callers" and appeared to hang up on those they suspected to be trainees.
The trainees decided to stick with Metamorph after RollOnFriday waved massive red flags because Metamorph CEO Tony Stockdale reassured them there was a way through for the business, sources told ROF. He promised loyalty bonuses and future salary increases to staff who didn't abandon ship, telling them "you will never be let down again". Instead, they have been shortchanged and dumped.
"Just another day in the ongoing saga of Tony Stockdale and his merry men of incompetent arseholes", said a source.
Trainee solicitors are common law apprentices which means they cannot be terminated as part of a redundancy process and have enhanced protections under employment law. A source said that Parrot & Coales and Metamorph bosses have tried to "worm their out of it" by claiming that the trainees were never actually transferred to Parrot & Coales. But that claim was undermined by HMRC which provided the trainees with payroll information confirming their employer was Parrot & Coales, said a source.
"This is how they treat the so-called loyal ones who stayed...we as a family have struggled for the last 3 months, with no communication and clear lies", said one affected insider.
Over Christmas, Metamorph's auditor resigned from one of its liquidating companies, MLL Limited, stating that its relationship with Metamorph had "broken down" because "we have been unable to obtain sufficient audit evidence to resolve serious concerns we have identified".
Crowe UK LLP described how "despite repeated requests the Company [MLL Limited] has failed to provide information and explanations sufficient to address our concerns", and that, damningly, "we have concerns around management's behaviour in terms of their approach to compliance with law and regulations".