A stroke survivor who worked for two former Welsh rugby stars has said he feels let down after their business allegedly ignored a court order to pay him thousands of pounds following his redundancy. An employment judge ordered a Pontyclun flooring shop owned by retired Wales international Rhys Gill and his ex-Cardiff teammate Ross Johnston to pay the store's former manager Jason Evans more than £5,800 — but a year on from the order, Mr Evans claims the pair are failing to respond to his messages.

Mr Evans, who joined Stores 4 Floors when Mr Gill and Mr Johnston launched the business in early 2015, considered them friends and says he "never expected them to react like this". Two years on from his redundancy, he has managed to claim £3,505 from the Insolvency Service but says he is still owed the remaining £2,355 from the court order. The 51-year-old from Porth, who has used a wheelchair since a stroke in his final year at Stores 4 Floors, told WalesOnline he is not in work and that money has been tight amid the cost of living crisis.

He acknowledged Mr Johnston and Mr Gill were very supportive during his lengthy hospital stay after his stroke, and that he received his full wages for four months while he was recovering. But he says he felt hurt when, after he was laid off, Mr Gill told him in an email: "The business has gone through. We gave you notice. Paid your sick pay. Paid you everything. One of the reasons the business has gone."

READ NEXT: 'Booking.com blunders have nearly killed my business and left me fearing bailiffs at the door'

DON'T MISS: Huge row breaks out between locals and rugby club

In the same month that Stores 4 Floors made Mr Evans redundant and ceased trading, Mr Gill and Mr Johnston started a similarly named flooring shop called Stores 4 Floors Outlet, which initially traded at the same Llantrisant Road site where Stores 4 Floors had been based. S4F Outlet moved to Cambrian Industrial Estate last year, where it is still running. In a joint statement Mr Gill, who won seven caps as a prop for Wales, and Mr Johnston, who played as a hooker for Cardiff Blues and Bristol, said "gestures of goodwill" to Mr Evans had been "overlooked and forgotten very quickly".

They added: "At the beginning of January 2022 the staff were notified that the business was in financial difficulty and we had made the tough decision that it was no longer viable to continue to trade. We explained that the pressures on us, as owners, having to 'financially support' the business were too significant. We ensured the staff that they would all be paid in full for that month and that they could seek alternative employment." The business partners have not explained why they have allegedly ignored the court order.

Former Stores 4 Floors store manager Jason Evans
Former Stores 4 Floors store manager Jason Evans

Mr Evans, who had 20 years of experience managing shops including Tiles R Us and B&M, said he "loved" working at Stores 4 Floors. The shop's website described him as "invaluable" to the business, which he says he believed to be in good financial health before his stroke in July 2021. While driving to a job in Aberdare, Mr Evans fell ill and had to pull over. He attended hospital, where medics diagnosed him with an ear infection, but the following day he suffered a stroke. Mr Evans spent the next three months in hospital.

"While I was in hospital Ross would contact me almost every day which was really good," said Mr Evans, who has had little mobility on his left side since his stroke. He added that he was paid his full wages for the four months after the stroke, in which time he says he did some admin work that "kept him going" while confined to his bed. In December 2021 the store lowered his wages to the statutory sick pay, which he understood, he says.

The following month, says Mr Evans, the owners called him to say the shop "wasn't viable anymore" and that all staff were being made redundant. This came as a surprise after the company had, he alleged, spent around £1,200 on a Cardiff night out just the month before. But he says he accepted the situation, adding: "All I wanted was what I was owed and to go our separate ways and stay friends."

He claimed: "No redundancy procedure was followed by Stores 4 Floors, no letters or consultation. Nothing. I was paid my January pay in full but no redundancy or anything else they owed." An employment judge later ruled that as well as £3,505 in redundancy pay, the company owed Mr Evans £1,685 in holiday entitlement and £670 for breaching his notice rights.

In January 2022 Mr Gill and Mr Johnston started the new company. Mr Evans says he was confused when he heard this and when he allegedly learned that two of the store's five staff were being taken on by the new business. According to the shop's social media, it traded at the same Llantrisant Road site as its predecessor, before relocating in March 2023.

After Mr Evans asked about redundancy pay, Mr Gill emailed him in February 2022: "We managed to pay you full pay for 6 months and paid you full the last month. Which was a big strain on the business. I’m not sure what else you would like us to do. It’s making us feel pretty s*** to be honest. It’s also making things awkward between us which we never wanted." (Mr Evans claims he was paid his full wages for four months after his stroke, not six.)

When Mr Evans replied that all he wanted to do was "tie up all loose ends and draw a line underneath it", Mr Gill wrote: "We won’t be paying any holiday pay or any notice period. The business is gone and it’s done. Still trying to work out ways of paying VAT bill which they are perusing [sic] us personally for."

The following month Mr Evans asked Mr Gill for a CN number so he could apply for redundancy pay. In response Mr Gill emailed: "The business has gone through. We gave you notice. Paid your sick pay. Paid you everything. One of the reasons the business has gone." He also wrote: "There is no CN number… There isn’t going to be one."

Mr Evans felt he had no option but to go to an employment tribunal for his redundancy and holiday pay. He told WalesOnline: "I could have gone for discrimination, being disabled. I didn't want to go down that route because I had a good working relationship with them. I tried to go through mediation but Ross wouldn't speak to ACAS."

In May 2022 Mr Gill emailed Mr Evans: "It’s such a shame now that it’s going to cost us thousands to defend ourselves in court and your [sic] happy with that." Mr Evans says he found himself wondering why his former bosses did not pay him what he was owed instead of spending thousands in legal fees. Stores 4 Floors did not respond to the employment tribunal claim, which resulted in a court order in January 2023. Mr Evans says the stress of the process affected his physical health, which was already frail following his stroke.

He added that he still holds "no ill will" towards Mr Gill and Mr Johnston, and just wants the debt to be paid. Because of his disability Mr Evans believes he would struggle to work as an employee for another store, but he thinks he could be successful running his own store. If his ex-bosses were to pay the debt it would help his plans to set up a business, he says.

Although it remains active on Companies House, the original Stores 4 Floors company has not traded since January 2022. Companies House says there was an application for voluntary strike-off in May that year, but this was suspended in July 2022 after an objection was received. According to its accounts from 2022, the firm owed £43,334 and its debtors owed £46,227 to the business, which had a total equity of £2,893. The newer business, S4F Outlet, had a total equity of £4,587 as of January 2023.

When Mr Gill announced his retirement from rugby in May 2022, he told WalesOnline in an interview: "We have got the flooring business, Stores 4 Floors, which has been going six or seven years. We’ve got a shop in Pontyclun with four members of staff working there. That pretty much runs itself."

In their joint response to Mr Evans' claims, Mr Gill and Mr Johnston told WalesOnline: "We are extremely saddened to hear that a former employee has taken to WalesOnline in what seems to be an effort to tarnish our personal reputations. During Mr Evans' incapacity, we scheduled two days a week for visiting him in hospital. We also paid him in full to limit the stress of financial worries and were in constant contact with his partner to ensure that they had everything they needed, whether it be financial or emotional support."

They added: "At the time of his incapacitation Mr Evans was receiving a significant amount of money every month despite his contract stating that he was only entitled to statutory sick pay. As a result of post-Covid-19 issues, we had various liabilities which we needed to settle out of our own pockets. Our accountants prepared a set of accounts to cessation of the business and applied for the company to be struck off. The company has an active proposal to strike off and regretfully has not traded since January 2022. We understand the importance of integrity. As such we find it extremely disappointing that in the world we live in, gestures of goodwill are overlooked and forgotten very quickly."

If you would like to contact us about an issue that should be investigated, email us at conor.gogarty@walesonline.co.uk