At age 55, I have three redundancies in the rear-view mirror and now I've been told my job is at risk! This is starting to feel personal.
Now is not the time to be made redundant. Not in this post-COVID 19 recession hit era which is forecast to last until 2024. Not when I'm reading about mass redundancies from large corporates and smaller enterprises alike. Not when I hear of forecasts that unemployment is likely to hit 10% in 2020. Not now!
Like me, many of you will have been through redundancy consultation and if not, you’ll know someone who has. For a lucky few, it’s a dream come true but for many of us, it’s a difficult and stressful time!
So you're faced with a redundancy notice, what does it mean?
Now, here’s the technical bit about redundancy situations.
First, to be considered for redundancy consultation you have to be legally classed as an employee (i.e. employed under a contract of employment), contractors, for example, don’t count. For further information about employment status go to https://www.gov.uk/employment-status.
Second, your job can be considered as genuinely redundant when:
Your employer has ceased or intends to cease, continuing the business or
The requirements for you to perform work of a specific type or to conduct it at the location in which you are employed has ceased or diminished.
Your job is at risk of redundancy when your boss goes to great lengths to explain that the decision to make your job redundant hasn't been made yet, this is a consultation about the proposal to make your job redundant; you’re told the reasons for the proposed redundancy, how many people are affected and which jobs are at risk and asked for your ideas about alternatives to redundancy. Your boss should give you as much information as possible about the proposal without it being complex or for there to be a need for you to see a specialist.
Consultation is your legal right. The period of consultation is different depending on the number of proposed redundancies, for example, if there are less than 20 then there is no set period but your redundancy policy may give this information; for 20 to 99 proposed redundancies, consultation must begin at least 30 days before the first redundancy notice.
Dealing with your feelings.
When you’re told your job is at risk – you’re likely to experience a range of emotions as shown in the illustration below:
Shock, denial and anger are normal responses to unwanted change. The majority of people move through these to accept the new situation. The important thing is not to dwell in the first stages too long as they are unproductive. If you find that this is you then a good starting point for many is to just speak about what's happening and how you're feeling to someone you trust.
Once you've started to accept the situation, it’s time to shift into positive action mode. So I'm going to share with you what I found helpful during this period of uncertainty, in the hope it may help you too:
It just helps to know that you’re not alone. My suggestions are:
If you can afford it (I pay £15 per month) - become a member of a trade union when you join a company. Union reps are on our side; they are trained to help staff going through this and are often consulted before jobs are put at risk of redundancy.
If your employer has an employee assistance programme check what, if any, support they provide.
Do you have legal support via your car insurance or bank insurance products that you can use?
Contact the Citizen’s Advice Bureau – the service is free and they have trained staff in this field.
Do you have a friend who has a legal or Human Resources background who can act as a sounding board and provide advice?
Your family may be able to provide support; this includes your adult children!
If you're mentally stuck in a bad place you may want to contact one of the charities listed on this NHS site: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/
Arm yourself with factual information
This is about being prepared; it builds confidence and ensures that you can’t be hoodwinked – whether intentionally or not.
My suggestions are:
Read your company's redundancy policy - it will include information about how you will be treated and what to expect.
Retrieve your contract of employment; this will tell you your notice period because your mind immediately jumps to the worst-case scenario and knowing this helps you to plan. If you can't find it, ask your Human Resources department for a copy.
Read the ACAS guide about redundancy https://www.acas.org.uk/redundancy ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) “work with millions of employers and employees every year to improve workplace relationships. They are an independent public body that receives funding from the government”
Read the consultation information
Let’s be honest, some of you will have heard of situations where redundancy is just an expedient way to terminate someone’s employment and sometimes this can be a win-win solution. However, if this is not your situation, I suggest you treat the situation as a genuine consultation; you just may be able to come up with an alternative to redundancy.
My suggestions are:
Check that the proposal meets the legal definition of a role being made redundant
Determine if the proposal is for your role to cease to exist in its entirety or is it going elsewhere. If it’s the latter, what other role (s) will perform your tasks –does this make sense?
Come up with options for alternatives to redundancy and whittle them down to those you believe are viable. In a previous company, a department facing the same situation decided to reduce their contractual work hours and one person decided to take early retirement: Result, no one was made redundant.
Consider - does this redundancy proposal seem genuine or a reason to get rid of you? Redundancy is considered a fair reason for dismissal but it has to be genuine.
I find it’s important to be dignified during the consultation process. Being difficult or truculent is just not helpful and in my opinion not good for your wellbeing.
My suggestions are:
If you are still expected to work, perform your job to the best of your abilities
Try not to engage in gossip and/or bad mouthing management or the company.
Start preparing for your next role – just in case
This is the time to take actions that are within your control. Trust me, you’ll feel better for it.
My suggestions are:
Start updating your curriculum vitae. Not sure how? See our article Writing your curriculum vitae at 50plus
Check external job sites and apply for jobs
Apply for vacancies at your own company
Upload your CV onto job sites
Let your friends and network know that you may be ready for a move
Update your LinkedIn Status to show you're looking for another opportunity (what’s your employer going to do? Sack you?)
Just so you know; the consultation period is not the time for your employer to give you information about redundancy pay (assuming you have 2 years of continuous service with the company.) Remember the decision to make the job redundant hasn't been officially made yet.
As for me, I’m one of 60 people competing for 15 jobs following a restructuring proposal. I’ll find out if I have a job at the end of August 2020. That said, I’m busily trying to find another role in my organisation; it’s always a good idea to hedge your bets!
Let me know what has helped you? You never know it might be just what another reader needs to know.