Published: 13:23, 05 March 2020
| Updated: 13:23, 05 March 2020
Staff at an online tuition company forced into administration are having to desperately search for new jobs after being left without a month's pay.
More than 50 people have lost their positions at Exemplar Education in Maidstone, due to the business suffering "a period of sustained cash flow pressure."
The company had several sites across the UK and in total, 181 redundancies were made, including 56 in Maidstone.
One employee at the Hermitage Lane business says she is "absolutely fuming" after the sudden news.
The staff member, who does not want to be named, said she received a text asking her to attend a meeting last Thursday, where it was announced the company was going into administration.
She said: "We were told to pack up our things and to leave by 3pm. I no longer had a job.
"I was absolutely fuming. The manager said he was heartbroken but looked like he was about to laugh."
Staff were due to be paid the next day, but were told they would not be getting any money.
"Lots of people were panicking as they didn't know how they were going to pay their bills. But the managers just didn't seem to care," the employee added.
Staff at the company, which offers virtual maths and English lessons, were each given a printed fact sheet explaining 'what do if you've been made redundant'.
An online government service should allow all employees to claim the money they are owed, including the outstanding February wages.
However, payments can take up to six weeks to process.
The employee said: "Luckily for me, I haven't got children or too many bills to pay at the moment, so I'm not too bad. But there were a lot of single mums made redundant and they might really struggle while waiting for that money to come through. Six weeks is a long time."
Although she claims staff were not warned about the redundancies, she felt there was a "weird vibe in the office" for a couple of months in the lead up to the announcement.
"In January, we were given a letter saying we would be paid that month which we thought was strange because we didn't ever think we wouldn't be. But when we asked our boss about it, he said he 'only knew what we knew'.
"My colleague thought we should be looking for new jobs because things were just all a bit weird - the manager was out of the office a lot more than usual, for example. But I didn't think I needed to look for a new job unless we'd been told to."
FRP Advisory was appointed as the administrators of EBS Systems, which traded as Exemplar Education, and the remaining business has been bought by the Student Support Centre, with 74 people keeping their jobs, including eight in Maidstone.
Examplar Education also featured in a recent BBC documentary, in which one mum branded the online tuition as "a costly mistake".
Parents claimed to have been mislead and tied into huge contracts, paying hundreds a month, with no way of cancelling.
Many of them didn't realise they were signing up for a loan instead of a monthly subscription.
But the company denied misleading customers and said the contract was entirely clear.
Jason Baker, joint Administrator and partner at FRP, said: "We are pleased to have secured the future of Exemplar in a deal that enables students to continue their studies and fulfil their learning goals with its programmes.
"The structure of the business was not sustainable in its existing form, and, with regret, a significant number of redundancies were made. We are working with the Redundancy Payments Office to support the affected employees at this difficult time."
The Student Support Centre has been approached for a comment.
More by this authorRebecca Tuffin