What if you were suddenly made redundant?
There are a variety of reasons why redundancy might happen within education. With tighter budgets, saving money is at the forefront of many leaders’ minds.
Talking from experience …
I’ve seen this process first-hand in schools; it can be very upsetting and difficult to put emotions aside. Heightened emotions affect both those who are facilitating the process and those on the receiving end.
The build-up to finding out who it is and wondering if it will be you, adds stress to an already stressful job.
Of course, the person who is being made redundant is ultimately the most adversely affected if they do not wish to change jobs. There are a variety of financial reasons for this course of action, such as a falling role, overstaffed departments, school mergers or closures.
Here are some top tips if you find yourself in this challenging situation.
- Know your rights – Ensure you consult with your union so you know that the process is being carried out legally and fairly in your setting. There should be consultation periods and clear timescales. You may be entitled to redundancy pay, time to attend job interviews etc.
- Consultation – You should have been warned about this possibility as early as possible. It should be made clear why staff are being made redundant and if there are any alternatives (such as several staff members agreeing to work part-time). Volunteers for redundancy should be asked for.
- Fair methods – The method used to identify the people who will be made redundant, should be clear and objective. Methods include: ‘last in, first out,’ using disciplinary records or staff appraisals. These should be communicated clearly.
- Discrimination – Check you are not being unfairly treated and get further advice from your union. Especially if you are on sick leave or maternity leave. Also, don’t assume that you will not be included in this process because you are on leave for whatever reason.
- Appeal – Always appeal with union support if you are not happy with an outcome.
- Consider your needs – This is a time to put what you want first. I’ve known several colleagues who decide to take voluntary redundancy to protect others. Some have even tried to protect themselves from the stress of the process by volunteering, even when they did not truly want to go. Think about what you want.
- Wellbeing support – Hopefully, your school will put in extra support for those who are feeling extra stress as a result of this situation. If you are the person who has been made redundant and you are unhappy, please seek support. It may be extremely challenging working out your notice without it.
- Find the silver lining – You may not find it at the time but, when you look back objectively after it is all over (or maybe in several years’ time), the process will hopefully have paved the way for other life opportunities that you hadn’t even considered. You may be better off as a result. If a school did not appreciate your worth, then you were in the wrong school.
- Thinking ahead – If possible, put some money away each month when you have a job, that will allow you to have some breathing space if you find yourself between jobs. If you are made redundant or resign in the future, it’s less stressful with a backup fund.
Different types and ways of restructuring …
Over my school experience, I’ve seen several restructures.
In one school, voluntary redundancy solved the problem, in another, it was a ‘last in first out’ scenario. In another, everyone was interviewed for their own jobs to decide and finally, one where a colleague was incorrectly made redundant whilst on sick leave! In this instance, the procedures were not followed, resulting in grounds for appeal.
Regardless of these individual situations. they all have something in common. They are stressful for all involved!
If colleagues are going through this process, consider how you can support them during this difficult time. If you need further support contact Education Support.