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So one of my close colleagues (who is also a friend I have worked with at companies prior) informed me in private that he was being made redundant and was asked to leave immediately with full notice payment. He was told that in accepting this he would not be able to tell anyone else about it at all. He informed me in confidence as we are semi-close that this was the first of a number of redundancies within my department of 10(ish).

I am 90% sure I am safe as I am a dev team lead, but I was planning to leave at some point in the next few months, and I was thinking I could save someone's redundancy by volunteering. The only issue with this is that I would have to disclose that I know the company is going to be making redundancies, meaning I put my colleague/friend in legal danger.

I feel like there isn't anything I can do here unless someone in senior management makes it obvious this is happening.

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    On a not-so-side-note, this made me recall a question I once asked here regarding a situation. I'm sharing it here as a suggested reading: workplace.stackexchange.com/q/98171/73791
    – DarkCygnus
    Dec 8 '21 at 22:56
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    This is country-dependent: some places have mandatory consultation periods for redundancies, in which employees can volunteer to take each others place. But this appears to be not that.
    – pjc50
    Dec 9 '21 at 11:16
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    If your avatar is actually a picture of you, your boss or one of your other coworkers may now know that you know.
    – FreeMan
    Dec 9 '21 at 16:01
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    @FreeMan The good news is that that's a picture of Sam Hyde, an internet comedian.
    – Chris Down
    Dec 9 '21 at 20:30
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    This is extremely country specific, and job contract specific. In France, it does not work that way.... Dec 10 '21 at 7:19
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but was thinking I could save someones redundancy by volunteering.

This premise is not necessarily true. Why would you think it is?

I'm sure redundancy and who is chosen is determined by performance reviews, seniority, and other factors. It's not like saying "hey I volunteer for redundancy" will change those factors and "save" someone.

I think that your friend told you this because you are close and trust each other. Surely disclosing that you know this fact could harm your friend's reputation.

I feel like there isnt anything I can do here unless someone in senior management makes is obvious this is happening?

Although your intentions are noble, you are not in any obligation or responsibility to save anyone from becoming redundant, so getting into this situation or disclosing that you know this "fact" may not be worth it.

If you were already planning to leave then focus on that. Find a new job, take it, sign it, place your notice, serve it and leave.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Dec 10 '21 at 22:04
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This could go totally bad for both you and your friend. If you have been close to the friend, it wouldn't take long to figure out who told you about the layoff. The company could choose to invalidate his severance pay AND also fire you immediately.

If you're going to leave, then get another job, give your notice, and disappear. Just pretend like this redundancy situation never happened.

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    Yup, you'e totally right, I will leave things as is for now. Its a small team, probably why I felt compelled to take some sort of action, but as you say, risk is just silly to take. Many thanks for the reply.
    – Lo-urc
    Dec 8 '21 at 23:10
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    "The company could choose to invalidate his severance pay AND also fire you immediately." - yeah, no. Without solid evidence, this is a slam dunk lawsuit against the company. There is no way any legal council in the company would ever OK that kind of thing for such a small amount of money.
    – Davor
    Dec 9 '21 at 11:14
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    @Davor in California where I live, ALL employment is at-will unless there's a written contract to the contrary. Employers don't need a "lawful" reason to terminate employees. So yeah, I'll stick with what I wrote.
    – Xavier J
    Dec 9 '21 at 18:15
  • @XavierJ - I don't see how that has anything to do with what I said. Both OP and his friends are already quitting or being fired, so being fired is not the threat we are discussing, it's legal action against them, which I said is nonsensical as the company would need to actually prove a wrongdoing in court.
    – Davor
    Dec 13 '21 at 12:38
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No, you won't save anyone's job.

Typically, companies or the people running companies don't want to lay off people, so they will lay off the minimum possible. They would like to remove more people, but they want to minimise the pain. So if you leave voluntarily, the number of people leaving is increased by 1.

In the UK, people usually get a redundancy payment (often on top of a payment in lieu of notice). If you leave voluntarily, you won't get that. I know a guy who lost a good five digit amount by quitting a week before redundancies were announced.

Now if you tell the company that you know about redundancies before it is public knowledge, that could get your friend into trouble. He wasn't supposed to tell you. There was an agreement between him and the company, and he broke it.

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  • re UK - quitting before redundancy is not voluntary redundancy. Volutary redundancy does exist and if you do get that then you do get redundancy payment and it often means less people get forced redundancy
    – mmmmmm
    Dec 9 '21 at 13:39
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    This guy just had bad luck - he found a job elsewhere and gave notice. Nothing to do with redundancies. Redundancies were announced a week later. And often companies don’t accept voluntary redundancy, because they want to keep the best people.
    – gnasher729
    Dec 9 '21 at 14:38
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This is location dependant and also company dependant.

In the UK there is voluntary redundancy.

Legally you don't make a person redundant you make the job redundant - this means that the company can't use performance appraisals to decide who is forced out. (However I think it is often quite hard for the person losing their job to show that it was done on performance so companies can get around this to some extent especially if only a few are let go).

Where voluntary redundancy comes in is usually in a large company or one with strong unions. In this case the fact that there are redundancies has to be announced in advance and sometimes the company asks for volunteers. The company can chose not to accept the volunteers (so if you are above average etc then you are unlikely to get it). These leavers will get a redundancy package, the aim is to keep the remaining workers happier as forced job losses are not good for morale also if only need to reduce a few then getting rid of people who are likely to leave anyway is better than forcing someone out.

So in the UK you might get redundancy and save a job - but if the company wants to keep you then less certain. Also if they refuse then you might well have a black mark against you for promotions etc

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    Just to point out - Don't volunteer for redundancy until they announce the redundancies, and don't tell them you are leaving anyway.
    – mgh42
    Dec 9 '21 at 23:27
  • Actually don't volunteer unless you know they are asking for volunteers
    – mmmmmm
    Dec 10 '21 at 0:16
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Change the justification of the query

Whilst others have addressed the underlying assumptions, I wanted to answer the actual problem presented.

You wouldn't need to tell them your friend told you about the redundancy. You would create for yourself a 'pretext', essentially, a way to naturally find out this information without letting them know that you know.

Set up questions that might lead to a natural (re)discovery of the information

For example (this might not be the best approach): You'd might speak with your manager privately that maybe you're thinking of leaving in a few months, and whether or not - because of the pandemic and budgets tightening like other businesses - whether or not they had any sort of 'voluntary redundancy' programs you could maybe potentially apply for.

Downsides

Now, your manager might try to persuade you to not quit, but you can just say you're just looking to keep your options open because of the whole pandemic situation change. They may then mention that actually, yes there is a voluntary redundancy available, and because you asked in private, ask you not to tell anybody.

As far as anyone is concerned, your querying is coincidence, play dumb

Essentially, don't go in all guns blazing with an absolute statement of fact (which will make them wonder how you know), but trying to lay the groundwork of a set of questions that naturally lead to you asking if voluntary redundancy is even available at the company due to the pandemic, given you read in the news some other companies have started doing it (it may not even be available to you as an individual as they might have only set aside enough funds for specific individuals, so it's worth asking).

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