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Okay, so my company has recently had a bit of a "shake-up"/downsize. Many people have been made redundant due to quiet sales this past few months.

My role isn't "key" in the business' operation (my role isn't relevant to the question), and I fear that given the current trend, my days with this company may be numbered. I have no desire to leave - I'm happy here, but don't want to be called into a meeting one morning to get my P45.

Is it common, or is there anything wrong with asking my manager for a meeting to discuss my future with the company? If I were to enter with something along the lines of:

"Given the recent cuts, one has to wonder if my days are numbered here - could you give me any information as to what your plans are for me?"

I don't see anything wrong with that - I have a family to think about too and even if I were to be told I have 3 months left at tops, or something along those lines, it at least gives me a little time to make alternative arrangements and line up another job or some work.

Has anyone else found themselves in this situation? Is this kind of thing acceptable? One problem I could see is managers/executives not wanting to disclose information regarding how much the company may be struggling - I'm only speculating from the cuts and job losses so far.

Any advice or ways I could go about approaching this would be much appreciated.

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There is only one form of job security: being marketable. If what you do is relevant and sought by the market, your job is secure. If not, you are the mercy of companies that need what you do. –  user1220 Jul 3 '12 at 20:10

3 Answers 3

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Given the united-kingdom tag it is worth mentioning that things are a bit different here than in the States.

If they decide that they want to get rid of you but don't want to go through the long-winded disciplinary route, there are a lot of legal pitfalls that they have to dodge, to avoid being taken to a tribunal for unfair dismissal.

If you know the rules they have to follow, you have a pretty strong position. But note that all of this only applies if you've been working there over 12 months. You really have no rights in that first year.

Edit: The above has been extended to 24 months, for anyone hired after 6 April 2012.

First thing to know is that a company does not make a person redundant. They make a role redundant. This means a couple of things:

  1. They cannot hire into that role for the next 6 months or more. And the role is not defined by title, they cannot hire someone to do your job under a different name.

  2. They have to offer you other roles within the company. And they have to work with you for up to 30 days to try to find you an alternate position. Now they can make this very difficult, they can make you interview for those roles and they can quietly hint to the people interviewing you that you shouldn't get the job.

But still, you have 30 days from the first meeting to your last day, if you need to drag it out. Add to that your contractual notice period, which is usually more like 1-3 months than the 2 weeks that is common in the States. That's how long it's going to be before you get your P45.

Finally, add to that statutory redundancy, which is

  • 0.5 weeks for every year you worked for them between ages 16 and 21.
  • 1 week for every year you worked for them between ages 22 and 40.
  • 1.5 weeks for every year you've worked for them over the age of 41.

Statutory redundancy is capped at £430 a week but is not taxable.

Add all of that up and you've usually got a fair amount of room to breathe between that first meeting and running short of money.

Also, knowing all this, many companies will not want to go through the hassle and may offer you more to leave quietly. They'll try to avoid it but, if you clearly know the rules, it's not at all uncommon for a company to make you a decent offer. (This has happened to me more than once in 5 jobs.)

So, don't panic yet, unless you've been there less than a year. But, it's my experience that once you get that feeling that things are falling apart, you're probably right. Certainly tidy up your CV and start preparing yourself to leave.

Afterthought Edit: There is one downside to all this. If the company actually declares bankruptcy, there are no jobs to offer, so you lose your 30 days there. And, worse, you end up at the back of the queue of creditors looking for money from them. You'll get your notice and your statutory redundancy, eventually, but you won't necessarily get it when you need it most. I remember my father getting a redundancy payment over 20 years after he was made redundant. But you should see this coming a long way off.

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Thanks pdr, that was incredibly helpful - I've been there 16 months by the way. :-) –  Anonymous Jul 3 '12 at 20:15
    
I've been through two TUPE's, two company closures and three redundancies. What pdf suggests is exactly right, Know you rights! –  Mark Booth Jul 4 '12 at 10:58
    
And if a company goes bust and canot pay statutory redundancy you can claim it from the govenment for RB1 from memory Also I would check your NI status as some employers go bust owing NI payments which can stop you getting benefits –  Neuro Aug 24 '12 at 10:04

In general, managers are not allowed to disclose information of that sort before it is official. So there is really little point in asking. Even if he knows that you are being fired on Friday, he can't tell you on Thursday. So even if he assures you that your job is not currently contemplated for elimination, you can't believe him because he would have to tell you that right up until the moment it becomes official. To tell you in advance would put his job at risk and could cause all sorts of hard feelings (why did he tell you that you are safe and not me) or company rummors (they really don't want future layoffs confirmed in advance, they need you to be working right up until they don't want you anymore).

Frankly in your shoes, I would just look for another job. If you feel that the company is on shaky ground and that your position is not critical, you have to look after your own interests first. Trust that feeling that tells you things are shaky.

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+1 for good advice. –  jdb1a1 Jul 3 '12 at 19:35
    
I wanted to phrase the question in a way that would perhaps help others rather than just myself - there's a slight twist in my scenario - I'm reasonably good friends with the CEO. Do you see that making a difference? –  Anonymous Jul 3 '12 at 19:50
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"Even if he knows that you are being fired on Friday, he can't tell you on Thursday." In the UK, they have to give you three days warning that your role is even at risk, then give you chance to defend it, before they even start going through the redundancy process. –  pdr Jul 3 '12 at 20:32
    
@pdr, perhaps I should say if he knows you will be informed on Friday, he can't tell you on Thursday. –  HLGEM Sep 11 '12 at 20:26
    
@Anonymous, if you are his friend, then it just as critical that he not tell you. This is matter of professional behavior not friendship. If you are his friend, you will NOT ask him to behave unethically and unporfessionally. –  HLGEM Sep 11 '12 at 20:28

Generally this should not be a problem to ask them. There may be rules regarding what they can tell you, and how they tell you, but you might be able to get a better sense by reading between the lines.

I would suggest instead of "Given the recent cuts, one has to wonder if my days are numbered here - could you give me any information as to what your plans are for me?"

"Given the current state of the business what can I do to help the company buy taking on additional duties and assignments. Is there any skills I need to develop to help me be more productive."

This shows you want to help the company, and that you want to produce more work for the same price. This shows that you want to be a team player.

Your statutory protections are great, but the ultimate plan is to keep the job you currently have. You avoid a disruption in cash flow, and the hassle of changing companies.

Given the fact that you might not get an honest answer you will have to freshen up your resume/CV and start looking. If you find something better great, if not at least you have started the job search process.

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