How to handle being told you’re at risk of redundancy

Written with our partners at:WJM logo
5 min read

If you're a business owner working through the redundancy process, this guide is ideally placed to share with your employees, with the view to help them understand the process and to help answer some of the most common questions they may have.

Covid-19 measures

If you’ve been told your job is at risk because of the impact of Covid-19 on your employer, take a look first at our employee 101 guide to redundancy and our employee’s quick checklist for ensuring a fair redundancy process.

These contain key information about your position and possible options in this emergency situation.

It’s one thing to get to grips with the process of redundancy, it’s another to actually handle it well. This guide focuses on how to do just that, including:

  • the best questions to ask when you hear the news that your job is at risk
  • how you can try to preserve your job status by making yourself indispensable and getting the best scores against the redundancy selection criteria
  • what you can do to prepare for losing your job
  • what your prospects of returning are if you're made redundant
  • how to tell other people you’re losing your job
  • how to handle surviving the threat (the psychological impact, which is often underestimated)

This is a horrible situation for anyone to be in. So, we asked our HR expert, the wonderfully no-nonsense but strongly people-oriented, Andrew Wilson from WJM, to help us take a look at how you can really make the best of it, stay positive, and keep as much control over the process, and the narrative, as you can.

The best questions to ask if you hear your job’s at risk

1. Why is my job at risk?

It might seem obvious, but plenty of us forget to ask this question, as we focus on processing the fact of the news first.

But understanding why your particular role has been identified as one at risk, especially if the redundancy process doesn’t apply to whole teams/units/branches, is important to you being able to evaluate whether this is a genuine redundancy situation (our 101 guide has more detail on how you evaluate this) – and not an unlawful dismissal that you could and should challenge your employer about.

For example, you should ask:

  • what has caused the need for the redundancy decision?

  • were there no other alternatives to this – like laying some staff off temporarily, or putting them on short-term working? (See our 101 guide for more detail on these common alternatives to full-blown redundancy. Employers should have considered these first and so they should be able to talk to you about why they have concluded that these alternatives aren’t suitable in these circumstances.

    Your employment with them would need to give them the right temporarily to lay you off or to put you on short-term working, but you can always agree a change to your employment terms if this is something that would be possible and prevent you from being made redundant.

You should also ask:

  • who else is being affected?

  • why were you, and they, chosen?

  • what criteria were used to select you – and them?

  • how did you score against those criteria?

  • and how does that score compare to others?

It's also to understand this important because of:

  • the options that you may want to consider later. It should give you a sense of whether your employer might reasonably be in a position to offer you a suitable alternative role in the business, as an alternative to terminating your employment altogether. Or you might want to consider volunteering to take redundancy; there can be benefits to doing so and you might want to take some advice on this, especially on what your redundancy pay entitlement might look like if you chose to put yourself forward for consideration

  • your mindset and being kind to yourself; understanding the reason(s) also has a helpful psychological benefit: it underlines the fact that this position isn't your fault. You're not a bad employee or not valued. Don’t fall into the common trap of thinking, for example, ‘If I’d just done that, they wouldn’t have chosen my job for redundancy…’

  • considering, a bit later on, how you explain what has happened to possible future new employers

2. What’s going to happen next and when will I know the outcome?

Your employer should be following their redundancy policy and they should give you a clear explanation of the process that they are following, how long they expect it to take, and when you should have confirmation about whether your job will be made redundant or not. Ask them to confirm this to you in writing so that there can be no misunderstandings.

Timeframes can of course slip and as long as they are consulting properly with you and explaining their process, steps, conclusions and intentions to you on a regular basis, they will likely be running a reasonable process.

It’s also a good idea to establish who you should talk to if you have any question or concerns about the process and what it means for you.

Want to access this guide?

Already have a Farillio account?Sign In

Get unlimited access to 100s of legal resources by signing up to Farillio today.

  • Manage your legal documents online
  • Well written legal templates by our partners
  • Guides to help you understand law
  • Legal help available every step of the way
Sign up

Read the full guide

Farillio members have access to all our online content

Farillio is THE trusted resource for businesses and households with:

  • Self-serve guides
  • How-to-do-it videos
  • Interactive documents and checklists
  • On-demand advice without hefty fees

If you need to do something complicated fast, we can take you through it, in plain English.

Many household names have chosen Farillio for their customers or members so we may be included in a service or product you've already purchased.

Already have a Farillio account?

Sign in

While we can connect you with some very fine advisers in the UK, and we collaborate with them to provide you with great materials, Farillio itself is not a law firm. We do not directly provide legal advice ourselves. All resources are available for you to use (according to our terms and conditions), but those resources are not legal advice to you and neither are they a substitute for you taking legal advice from a lawyer.