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The redundancy update (not MS)

As some of the regulars here will know, I’ve been living under the threat of redundancy since March.

Although it’s still not been confirmed as certain, the noose keeps getting ever tighter, with each passing week.

Initially, we learnt the company wants/intends to shed 8% of its UK workforce by July - or about 1 in 12. That was bad, but still an 11 in 12 chance of escaping, although we would all know somebody who got the chop…

Last week, we learnt the specific target for our division was much higher, at 1 in 6.

This week, it’s closed in to individual group level. I am currently in a (virtual) team of 28; we live and work all over the country. Our team is to lose 15 people, or more than 50% of the total, by mid-July.

We’ve no idea how many have applied to leave voluntarily - they will try to make up the cuts from those first, though not everyone who has volunteered is guaranteed to be accepted.

But it’s no longer looking likely that I have any chance of being spared. Not only that, but people who previously looked a lot safer than me can’t count their chickens, either. This is awful. I looked down the list of names; I know all of them. It’s a real shock that more than half of us will be gone in six weeks. :frowning:

Tina

As if the uncertainty of ms isnt enough to contend with the not knowing with your job aswell is hell.

I can fully empathise with you and your situation which I have followed, as work are retiring me off and we have no idea yet which tier so it could be a pitence. Ontop of that my hubby could lose his job very soon as the council are constantly slashing the work force, and he has got through the last 2 rounds of redundancy although loads of the team have gone already.

It is a very scary place to be. If I remember right you didnt think it likely you could find work that suited you from home as you do now…sorry if thats the wrong person. Have you had any joy looking to see if there is anything out there for you?

Pip

ps is it possible they might look at the ms and not dare get rid of you?

Hi Tina, well this is as you expected regarding redundancy but a lot more people are affected. It is an awful situation for you and I really don’t know what to say or advise, I suppose the unknown then is how many have applied for voluntary redundancy, but as Pip says do you think they might look at the ms and not dare get rid of you. But that seems unlikely since you are without work at the moment anyway and if ms was going to play a part you would have thought you wouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place. The only slight positive I can see is that you say you are a virtual team working all over the country so I suppose that if you do decide to apply for jobs locally you wouldn’t be competing with so many other people since tey are in other parts of the country and I guess won’t be going after jobs in your local area. Thinking about you. Cheryl:-)

Hello Tina,

I am so sorry that you find yourself in this Damoclean situation. I know for a fact that living with such tension really would make me ill. Take care of yourself, and set aside some time each day to try and relax. If this redundancy is as clear as it seems, then why not try and plan something for yourself that you can do BECAUSE you are now unemployed, -such as a holiday, or decorating a certain room etc.

Best Wishes,

Moira

Thanks for your reply, Pip.

I’m sorry your in a similar position - as are so many right now.

But it IS harder with MS, isn’t it?

I still don’t know if I even want another job. The whole idea of starting again at my age, and with MS, is so exhausting and anxiety provoking.

If I decided this was Fate’s way of telling me to stop (I’d never really envisaged working much past 50 anyway, especially since I got ill), nothing bad would happen immediately. I could get by for quite a few years, probably, provided I lived modestly.

But what really worries me is not the immediate future, but long-term. When I’m my mum’s age, but in a lot worse health, and with absolutely nothing, because I spent it all in my 40s and 50s.

If I’m hesitant about looking for new jobs now, it’s not going to get any better when I’m 50, or even 60, is it?

And of course, we’re all going to be expected to carry on until 68 now…

Yes, I am the person who’s worked from home for years and years. I really don’t think I could go back to the daily rush-hour commute again. I was struggling when I did it ten years ago, but that was before I knew I was ill.

I did think, initially, that being registered with HR as “disabled” might give me some measure of protection.

But unfortunately, the company is still allowed to get rid of disabled people, as long as they can show selection wasn’t on that basis.

They’ve already said the selection criteria will be: (i) Knowledge and skills, (ii) Performance and (iii) Adaptability and flexibility, in that order of precedence.

I feel all three have inevitably been impacted to some extent by the fact I’ve not been well. I haven’t been aggressively pursuing chances to update knowledge and skills, I have only “fair” performance ratings (nothing awful, but nothing outstanding either), and I’ll definitely score low on adaptability and flexibility, because I don’t drive, can’t/won’t relocate (Imagine the stress!) and can’t really manage a daily commute.

With more than half the team facing the axe, there’s no guarantee I would have kept my job anyway, irrespective of MS. I was steady and conscientious, but was never gonna win Employee of the Year!

But having MS doesn’t do anything to protect me either.

I know I should be looking in earnest for new jobs now, as you don’t need second sight to see what’s going to happen.

But when I look at what’s on offer locally, I feel even more apathetic and despondent.

Pages and pages of low-paid, physically demanding jobs (porters, cleaners, kitchen staff, warehouse staff), which I couldn’t do anyway, even if it weren’t for the poor money.

Loads of “commission only”, that promise “on-target-earnings” >£30K (perhaps a lucky few can make that much, but I don’t want to depend on commission there’s no guarantee I’ll get), loads of “charity fundraisers” - which you think sounds good and worthwhile, until you realise it’s those horrible people who accost passers-by in the street, and persuade them to sign up for direct-debit (Yeah, there’s going to be a high take-up rate for that, in this climate - NOT).

Call centre work - that’s all cold-calling, selling stuff, as well. I don’t appreciate it when I’m on the receiving end, so no way would I sign up for that.

I feel as if my 23 years in the workplace have equipped me for absolutely nothing.

My last formal qualifications were over 10 years ago. They’re good, but I’ve never used them, and recently threw all the books away, thinking I’d never need them again… They were probably out-of-date anyway.

I’ve no retail experience - not even working as a Saturday girl, and I can’t type (except the two-fingered variety, sufficient to post on forums), or operate a telephone switchboard…

I’m just not seeing anything.

Higher education has got very much more expensive now, if I decided I was going to bite-the-bullet, and retrain as something else. I’ve already got one degree but not used it. I don’t want to start collecting the damn things!

It’s horrible…

I know I must be very careful what I wish for (with all the stress, it might come true anyway), but I’m almost hoping for a relapse, as company rules don’t allow you to be made redundant whilst actually on-the-sick. Having MS by itself wouldn’t save me, but being signed-off with it would.

A less honest person might go to the doctor, and say: “Aah, aah, I’m feeling terrible! I think it must be a relapse!” - and get signed off for six weeks. After all, you can’t prove OR disprove neuropathic pain, can you?

But somehow, I just can’t bring myself to be that cynical, even though it might mean the difference between keeping a job, and not having one…

T.

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Hi Cheryl,

Yes, there was stunned silence on the phone call, and hardly any questions. I think we all knew our area was bound to be in the firing-line, but not that we’d be so disproportionately affected that more than half would be going.

As you say, if the MS was going to be seen in any way as a “mitigating factor”, you’d have thought I would not have been relieved of my duties in the first place.

I suppose the other way of looking at it is what is life going to be like for those who DO keep their jobs? It’s certainly not going to be a nice, stress-free environment, is it, doing work that used to be done by twice as many? Maybe I’d be best off out of it? It’s all turning very unpleasant. I’m not sure I want a future that’s going to be like that. Is there something to be said for leaving with a payout?

MS being what it is, I have no idea how long I would have been able to keep working anyway. If my health takes a nosedive over the next couple of years, it may work out that I’ll have done well to leave with a cash sum. Now, where did I put that crystal ball?

Tina

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My MS has has actually saved me from being made redundant! Sounds bizzare but because my employer has insurance for us which gives them a percentage of our salary losing me wouldn’t make any difference to the salary budget. But gives me an income! Which is much better than any other long-term sickness benefit. Or whatever they are calling it this week.

I had to have medicals and reports from my GP and neuro, but at the time I actually applied for it after putting it off for a long time it was not a problem. I was obviously not able to function enough to do any work at all. Apart from maybe sleep-testing beds!

I have been made redundant three times in total so I really don’t mind missing out on a forth one. I found the hardest redundancy to deal with was the one with the 3 month consultation period.

Good luck for the future, Tina!

take care

Ellen

Hullo Ellen, Yeah, this one’s a three-month consultation period, because of the numbers involved. And in fact, I knew there was a problem for me personally, even before the wider plans were announced. So it will be more like four months in total, I’ve been living under the threat. It’s really starting to take its toll. Now they’re talking about letting us work our notice - another three months - in the hope of finding alternative posts. But if I haven’t found anything in three months, I think a further three will just be prolonging the agony. That will take me all the way to September, still with no answer. I suppose it’s good that they don’t want to close the door when there might still be any chance. But as I’ll still get paid up to September, whether or not I work it, I don’t think the extra three months will be very good for me. I think the outcome will still be the same, but it will just be an extra three months of angst. It already feels inevitable. I’m annoyed, as I was set personal learning objectives that are ONLY relevant to the team that’s now being slashed by over 50%. Obviously, there is no future, now, for any of the courses I’ve just worked my way through. I could/should have been studying things that might be useful elsewhere in the company (or outside). NOT rubbish that only applies to a team that’s effectively being dismantled. If there are only going to be 13 Quality people in the whole company, and I’m not looking likely to be one of them, then clearly it was a waste of time trying to update my skills on anything to do with that. It’s absolutely crazy. I’m now not going to persevere with training that clearly isn’t wanted or needed by anyone. I’m finding it very hard to apply myself to what little work I still have, too, since it all seems such a charade, if I know I’m going to be out in six weeks! I know some would say now is NOT the time to give up, as it might be the last chance to prove I’m still useful. But I think they already know who’s to go. In fact, I think they already decided BEFORE they began the official consultation. So nothing I say or do now is likely to affect anything. The only unknown is just how many people put in to go voluntarily, and how many of those the company is willing to accept. But it’s a safe bet that, in my area, it won’t be 15 out of 28. Maybe two or three of the older ones might feel tempted, but that still leaves a dozen of us to be shown the door against our will. I believe this is the highest proportion anywhere in the company, and seems very unfair. I blame our management, who have obviously failed to promote our services to anyone who might listen. They could have worked at raising the profile of the team. But instead, they’ve seemed content to let our work be treated as a sideline for quite some time now, with no strategy for selling it. Naturally, if people don’t understand it, or can’t see the benefit, it’s going to be first for the chop. T. x

Sorry to hear this, Tina.

Does your firm offer outplacement advice to people they are making redundant? Our lot used to, and they external company who provided it were very good. Basically the outplacement consultant will look at your skills and the things you like and are good at, and will help to get a person who is lots of useful skills and experience but thinks she hasn’t from ‘I have no transferrable skills to speak of’ to ‘Blow me down, I have more transferrable skills than I thought.’ It’s not a magic wand in a difficult climate, obviously, but it can be very helpful, particularly for people who have been in the same organisation for a long time and have not been accustomed to framing their view of themselves in those terms.

Alison

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Morning Alison,

Yes, we’ve just had another call about it this morning. They have engaged an outplacement company.

You’re so right about that feeling that: “I have no transferrable skills, to speak of”.

The reality is it’s been a pretty lame job for the past several years, but because I didn’t feel well anyway, I didn’t really want anything thrusting or dynamic.

But the downside is that there’s very little to say about it, on paper. Questions are going to be asked about someone who’s spent several years in a boring, humdrum job, seemingly without progressing or adding to their skills at all.

I did used to do some voluntary work, but that ended, when I got ill. So I’d be reluctant to bring it up, because the question would be asked: “So why/when did you stop?”. If I say: “Because I got ill”, any prospective employer is going to worry exactly the same would happen with their job.

I’m wondering how far, if at all, I should challenge the fairness of the selection criteria, on the basis that someone diagnosed with serious illness in 2010 would be disadvantaged on some or all counts. They’re only considering the past couple of years, which is my exact pre/post diagnosis phase, so it would be surprising if I wasn’t adversely affected during that time, even if it was only the worry and stress, and not medically attributable to the MS itself.

But the problem is I no longer know if I even want to keep my job.

Reasons for: the money

Reasons against: everything else

It’s not going to be a very pleasant place to work, even for the minority of our team who’ll be staying.

Could I do better elsewhere? Is it even necessary to work at all, or could I be content with less, and not worry that my savings reservoir will be dry by the time I’m 60?

T.

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Hi T,

I don’t think the 2 examples given in this EHRC document refer to you http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/guidance-for-workers/dismissal-redundancy-retirement-and-after-you-have-left-a-job/avoiding-discrimination-against-disabled-people/ but it would not hurt to give them a ring.

Like anything legal if your employers have not crossed every i you could have a get out clause.

Mind you you’re in a situation that if you win staying on someone else will go. Can I just say your concern is YOU; don’t concern yourself with the ramifications.

As you say though do you want to work for someone who does not want you?

G

Thanks George,

I think you’re right it’s going to be horrible either way.

Life’s NOT going to be a bed of roses for those still left behind - not least because they’ll presumably have the same workload for less than half the people, so how much fun is that going to be?

And the whole atmosphere is just getting more and more ruthless, paranoid, and cut-throat.

How good is that for anyone with MS? How good is it for someone well, come to that?

I probably shouldn’t say so, but I’m not really bothered about the impact on other people. After all, most of them aren’t ill, so wouldn’t face the same barriers to re-employment. I expect most of them would be OK; perhaps not immediately, but in the long run.

But I am concerned about continuing to work anywhere so horrible anyway. Not just the principle of working for someone who’d wanted to get rid of me, but working for an employer where things have gone so catastrophically wrong, and living with the consequences of that.

We’ve lost $4bn. No, that’s not a typo! Can you imagine what it’s like working for a company whose balance sheet looks like that? “Not nice” is an understatement.

T.

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