Seek advice when facing redundancy

Q The other night I went out with one of my colleagues from HR. We had a bit to drink and during the evening she let slip that, as a result of the downturn in the economy, my department is going to reduce its headcount.

However, as she also told me that she fancied me, I soon lost interest in her credit-crunch conversation and was keener to discover if I would be getting Crunchy Nut Cornflakes for breakfast. The next morning, she told me there was a chance that I may be "put at risk", but "don't tell anyone". What the hell was she referring to?

A: Fortunately for you, she was not referring to the previous night's activities and that you should have worn a condom, but rather that you may be entering into a consultation period with your employer, which could result in the termination of your employment.

You need to find out when the consultation period ends, as this will tell you how long you have left in your current role. The length of time will depend on how many people are being considered for redundancy. This could range from one day to up to 90 days if there are 100 people or more being made redundant.

You should also ask what the severance payment is and ascertain whether you need to be present at work during this period.

In theory, you may be entitled to gardening leave and this may be written in to your existing contract.

You need to find out what the criteria for the selection pool are if not everybody is going and when you will find out who will be made redundant.

Check out if the company will be supplying any support in helping employees look for alternative employment and contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau to find out how much redundancy pay you are legally entitled to.

If you have two years' or less service, you have no statutory entitlement to any redundancy pay, and unfortunately you could end up with just your notice period.
So, if you are thinking of moving company over the next few months, I'd think very carefully before you jump ship.

Over the next 12 months, virtually every company will be reviewing its costs and most work on a LIFO basis - last in, first out. Unless you are going for an amazing package that comes with an extended notice period, my advice is to stay put where you are.

And finally, talking of packages, the best piece of advice I can give you is that, after last night, I'd get that checked out too.

David Emin is director of advertising at Mirror Group Newspapers. Send your dilemmas to david.emin@haymarket.com

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