What questions should you ask about your redundancy to ensure you receive the support, such as outplacement services, you may be entitled to? Whether the news about your redundancy is unexpected or not, finding out you no longer have a job can be unpleasant. Receiving difficult news makes it hard to process important information relating to your redundancy and to ask questions about its implications. In this article, we’ve developed 10 questions to ask if made redundant.
Things to find out about your redundancy
Usually people are informed of their redundancy in a meeting with their line manager and an HR representative. During that meeting you should ask your employer about:
- Your rights under your employment contract.
- The redundancy package you’re entitled to.
- What outplacement support is on offer to help you cope with job loss and career transition to a new role.
But being told your job is redundant can come as an unexpected shock. This can make it difficult to absorb and understand everything the person giving you the bad news is telling you. You may forget to ask questions about the redundancy package and the services on offer that you later wish you had.
What to ask in a redundancy meeting
If you think you’re in danger of being made redundant, prepare yourself for the bad news. We’ve developed 10 questions to ask if made redundant that are useful if you’re in a redundancy meeting.
1. Why you?
If your job loss is due to a targeted restructure, rather than mass redundancies, asking why your role is no longer needed can help you understand the background to the decision. This can help you to come to terms with your redundancy and also see that it was not your ‘fault’.
Remember there is a legal definition of a genuine redundancy. Your employer has to be able to demonstrate that your role was no longer required. Is your redundancy a result of the business getting out of that sector, for example?
If your employer is remaining in that sector, how did it decide your role should be made redundant, but not your colleagues? Try to find out about the selection criteria they used to identify employees (unfortunately some employers will be more forthcoming than others). What was your score against the criteria? How did it compare against others?
2. Who will do my work?
It may help to find out what will happen to your work once you’ve gone. Will it be divided up among remaining staff or outsourced? Will you be expected to train those staff taking over your role or will you need to provide a handover?
3. What other roles are available?
Did your employer investigate all other possibilities before retrenching you? There is a legal requirement that if suitable vacancies exist elsewhere in the organisation, that they are made available to you. Other alternative options to redundancy are pay-cuts, reduced hours or unpaid leave.
4. When will your employment finish?
Even though you are being made redundant, you may have to work a notice period. Going back to work may be the last thing you want to do, and is likely to be a challenging experience. However this time can be useful to prepare for losing your job. It’s an opportunity to organise your financial affairs and arrange replacements for benefits such as health insurance, loans or a company car before your salary stops.
If you are put on ‘gardening leave’ (when you serve out your notice period at home), what will you be able to do and who can you communicate with?
Your employer may give you payment in lieu of (instead of) notice. This means you receive no notice, and must leave immediately. However your employer must pay you all the salary and benefits you would have received during the notice period.
If you have to leave immediately ask if you can first clear your desk. Employers are entitled to remove you from the workplace at the same time as notifying you, so your belongings may instead be couriered to you. They may also remove your access to IT systems. This will make it difficult for you to get personal material off your phone or computer.
5. How can you say goodbye?
What will your colleagues, clients, customers and/or suppliers be told about your departure? Will you be able to say goodbye before you leave?
6. Are there restrictions on future roles?
If you have a senior role or access to confidential or sensitive information, your employment contract may have a restraint of trade or non-compete clause or confidentiality provisions. Check what you can or can’t do so you don’t fall foul of these restrictions.
7. What do you need to return?
If you have a company supplied motor vehicle, phone, IT equipment etc, how and when will you have to return it?
8. What is your redundancy pay made up of?
The National Employment Standards set the minimum amount of redundancy pay (or severance) that you are entitled to. Your employment contract or Enterprise Agreement may also contain redundancy provisions. These are the minimum entitlements.
You are also entitled to a notice period, or payment in lieu of notice, and any outstanding annual leave and long service leave.
An employer can apply to Fair Work Australia to have the redundancy pay amount reduced. Small businesses (with fewer than 15 full time employees) are exempt. NES entitlements to notice and redundancy pay do not apply to employees employed under fixed-term contracts. However if you are on a fixed-term contract that is terminated prior to its end date, the employer is usually required to pay the salary due for the balance of the contract.
Your employer should provide you with information in writing about your redundancy package, for your future review.
Seek legal advice if you think you are not receiving the redundancy entitlements you deserve.
9. Will any outplacement support be available to you?
Ask your employer if they’re providing additional career transition support such as outplacement services, time off for interviews or payment for training.
Although you may feel anger towards your former employer and feel resentful about what’s happened, you should accept any offers of outplacement support that are made to you.
Outplacement services provide emotional support, career coaching and job search advice that can be highly beneficial when you’ve been made redundant. Working with an outplacement consultant, you can maximise potential career transition opportunities and develop a job search strategy to secure your next job.
10. How will I get a reference?
Your employer probably will have a process for providing references. Make sure your current job is on record rather than a previous one. Some organisations only provide a statement of services. If they do provide references hopefully your line manager (or someone who knows your work) will have some input.
A good reference can be critical in helping you stand out from other candidates when job searching. If you think your employer may not provide you with a great reference, approach people who can provide potential employers with positive assessments of your ability to do the job.
After the meeting
It may seem an impossible task, but try to stay motivated. Give yourself time to come to terms with the news of your redundancy. Then aim to take positive steps to get back into employment.
See this as an opportunity to rejuvenate your career. This could be your chance to consider every possible option or do something different. Your new circumstances mean you have time (and perhaps help from an outplacement consultant or career coach) to commit to a well-managed and successful job search after redundancy.