A couple of weeks ago, I was told my entire team was being made redundant. One member was being moved sideways into a different department, two long-term contractors had their terms terminated, leaving me. So I immediately started looking for other roles.

In the meantime it became apparent - as I suspected - that this decision was premature. There is simply too much important business knowledge being lost as a result of this decision not to cause significant short-term problems.

I am now being encouraged to re-apply for a different internal role, presumably so that they can retain more essential skills in the short term. It represents a promotion. I meet all the essential criteria for this role, but I am not a great fit: the relevant experience is about a decade old. Also, I am unsure about how I might feel in taking on the extra responsibilities going forward.

My external job search, meanwhile, has gone well. I have a theoretical offer on the table - all that remains is to finalise terms, which will happen next week. Although this role is a good fit for my skills, the environment is somewhat peculiar and I am a little nervous about making the transition.

I have been told by HR that I should make my internal application right away and that I can withdraw at any time while retaining my redundancy benefits if I choose to do so. This leaves me with two problems:

  • I'm not sure I trust this advice, and I don't want to get locked into an internal application process which would disqualify me from redundancy benefits if I pull out.

  • If I do get the internal promotion, I am very concerned that the company might make use of having my business knowledge around for a few more months and then take steps to remove me again for a better candidate.

Are either of my fears realistic, or am I worrying unduly?

  • When you were told you were made redundant, was that in writing, so it has legal consequences or was it just talk at the water cooler? Do you have a set date when you have to leave the company? I'm no UK expert, what would your redundancy benefits be if you immediately took another (external) job? – nvoigt Oct 5 '18 at 12:31
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    Take the severance package and the new job and don’t look back – Gaius Oct 5 '18 at 12:36
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    @Kilisi can't say I blame them tbh.. the redundancy process in the UK looks very good and beneficial to the employee and if company's play by the spirit rather than the letter of it then it generally is - but it's got loopholes you good sail a cruise liner through – motosubatsu Oct 5 '18 at 13:11
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    @motosubatsu yes, I read your answer, not a great situation, hard to see why people are trying to close this question – Kilisi Oct 5 '18 at 13:31
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    @motosubatsu I always care about money, but once I've decided to leave, nothing will make me stay, I'm already gone in my mind focused on the next adventure. Need me for anything it will cost a lot more as a consultant. – Kilisi Oct 5 '18 at 13:39

Sorry to hear you're going through this - I've been around the possible redundancy merry-go-round myself and it's always stressful.

Given you are in the UK ACAS are an excellent resource for information and advice that is plainly worded and obviously completely impartial.

You're right to have some concerns regarding the internal offer as from a legal standpoint if they have offered you suitable alternative employment within the company they are no longer obligated to pay you statutory redundancy pay. It's a harsh move to be sure but I wouldn't be blindly trusting them to do the right thing.

If you have a suitable written agreement stating that your redundancy benefits are protected regardless that should supersede the "get out clause" the law provides them but I'd run the wording of that agreement past ACAS or an employment solicitor to be safe.

Hopefully you'll never need it but it is also a really good idea to keep a written log of every communication you have had regarding the redundancy process and a timeline as there are certain timeframes that parts of the process have to be done in and you never know when it might come in handy if you can prove they didn't meet the requirements.

Personally from how you've described the situation I'd be a little wary of this 11th hour alternative role - if, as you suspect the reason they are offering it is to mitigate the bus factor then an unscrupulous employer could use the new role to get some knowledge transfer done and then once they had that business knowledge safely duplicated in other employees they could say "whoops sorry - we're making your new role redundant now", obviously if your employment is considered to be continuous (which it should be) you'd then be in line for the redundancy benefits again but you would be starting from scratch again and the theoretical offer you have now could be long gone!

It sounds to me as if you really aren't sold on the new internal position in terms of the role itself but that you also have reservations about the new potential replacement so what I would do is stall committing to applying to the internal role until you have a firm offer on the table from elsewhere (if possible) then you can evaluate the two offers against each other in exactly the same way you would if they were both "new" job offers.

We aren't really about telling you what choices to make here (it's not the SE way) but if I were you my gut instinct would be to take the external offer if it materialises, you'll likely lose your redundancy benefits unless you can time things right to let the redundancy process play out first but a sorted job is probably better long term than a couple of months pay.

PS: It goes without saying that you need to keep quiet about the external offer in that scenario if you want any hope of getting the redundancy money as if you resign rather than being made redundant they don't have to give you a penny! And as distasteful as it is I've known companies to miraculously cancel the redundancy process when they find out the employee has another job to go to and essentially force a resignation as a result.

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  • Thanks for this. Actually my employer are aware of the external offer as they've been contacted for references. I have it in writing that in this event I will still get my severance package. – Anon E. Mouse Oct 5 '18 at 13:36

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