Redundancy may just be one of the most terrifying words you could hear in your working life. Being made redundant without warning can be a truly stressful situation to be in – your confidence takes a hit, your future seems uncertain and you may be worried about your finances. Whilst you may be hurt, angry or scared about being made redundant, it can be a good thing! Right now, redundancy rates are expected to spike. So, I’m here to offer an alternative narrative by telling you why being made redundant was the best thing that ever happened to me.
First, we’ll cover some facts of redundancy then I’ll walk you through my own experience in being made redundant.
I’ve been made redundant – what are my rights?
If you have been made redundant, or are in the process of being made redundant, you’ll likely want to know what your rights are. Once you’ve got over the initial shock of being made redundant, take a moment to read and understand your rights when being made redundant.
Your employer still has a duty to provide you with a certain level of protection. As a result, there are certain conditions that they need to follow when making employees redundant. When making employees redundant, your employer needs to ensure that they use fair reasons when selecting employees for redundancy.
These reasons for redundancy include:
- skills, qualifications and aptitude
- standard of work and/or performance
- disciplinary record
Employers could also use a “last in, first out” process when choosing which employees are made redundant. However, if using this method, they need to make sure they can justify this decision.
If you are worried that you have been unfairly dismissed from your job, the Gov UK website outlines some reasons for redundancy that would be deemed as automatically unfair.
Unfair reasons for redundancy include:
- pregnancy, including all reasons relating to maternity
- family, including parental leave, paternity leave (birth and adoption), adoption leave or time off for dependants
- acting as an employee representative
- acting as a trade union representative
- joining or not joining a trade union
- being a part-time or fixed-term employee
- age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage/civil partnership, race, religion/belief, sex and sexual orientation
- pay and working hours, annual leave and the National Minimum Wage
Along with making sure you’ve been fairly dismissed, you will likely also want to check that your redundancy pay and notice period is in line with the statutory redudancy pay and notice periods set by the UK Government. The statutory notice period depends on how long you’ve worked for your company and can range from one week to twelve weeks notice period. Your employer must provide notice pay based on your pay rate and notice period. However, they may also choose to provide payment in lieu of notice.
To be eligble for statutory redundancy pay, you need to have:
- been an employee working under a contract of employment
- worked at least 2 years’ continuous service
- been dismissed, laid off or put on short-time working
Statutory redundancy pay rates vary depending on employee age and length of service. As a result, the longer you have worked for a company, the higher your level of security in regards to statutory pay and notice period. Personally, I believe all employees should be provided with at least 4 weeks notice period to help them get back on their feet and find an alternative. But, don’t fret! You’ve got this. Life just has a funny way of keeping you on your toes…
My experience of being made redundant
Y’know when you meet someone new and immediately know there’s no spark between you both? Well, that’s how I felt about this particular company. But, I was determined to stick it out, give it my all whilst I was working there and make the best of it until I found somewhere better. Yet, despite these feelings, hearing the words “We’re going to have to let you go” still weren’t easy to hear. I
‘m someone who always takes pride in my work. I put my heart and soul into every job I do, filled with determination to use my skills and expertise to push the business towards success. I know the work I do is good. I’m not being obnoxious or big-headed here – from looking at the analytics and marketing reports, I knew that the work I put in had increased their online presence and helped them turn their online revenue around from where they were on the day I first joined, 11 months earlier. So I know my redundancy wasn’t a decision based on competency.
Yet being made redundant made me doubt all of that. It knocked my confidence and made me question my own skills and abilities. Here I was, two days before Christmas, being made redundant from a job I hated. I felt like a failure. More than anything, I was angry. I was angry about the way they handled the situation and the way they treated me personally. I was also angry at myself for not leaving sooner off my own accord. And yet I was relieved and happy all at the same time.
The day I lost my job
I was made redundant two days before Christmas. It was a Monday. Weirdly, the night before when going through the usual pre-work Sunday night scaries, I jokingly said to my boyfriend “I’ll be going into work tomorrow to be made redundant”. I guess there really is a bit of truth behind every joke. Because, low and behold, an hour into my working day the Head of Finance pulled me into the board room to tell me they’d be making my role within the business redundant and I was no longer required, effective immediately.
I have always been, and will always be, an advocate for employee wellbeing. I truly believe that companies can flourish by simply looking after their employees and providing them with a productive and caring work environment where they are respected and valued. Sadly, in this particular role, that wasn’t how things worked. Instead, the Managing Director (who I directly reported to) had spent the past six months actively avoiding me. From my first month of joining, severe marketing budget cuts were made and any attempt I made to hold a meeting with the MD to discuss marketing activity went ignored. It was clear that this was a company that didn’t value marketing and changing their opinions on that would be impossible. As a result, I knew my role within the company wasn’t secure yet I was cautious about skipping job. I wanted to make sure that the next job I moved into was one where I could see myself being long-term, somewhere where marketing is understood and appreciated, and, finally, somewhere that I could truly make a difference. So, I stayed at the company despite having reservations about whether I’d made the right choice by accepting the job role.
Because of this, the news of their e-commerce business closing down and them no longer needing marketing support didn’t come as a shock to me. Of course, I could still see a place for digital marketing within the company – even without an e-commerce platform, marketing is an integral component for the growth of any business. Whilst I wasn’t shocked, I was still angry. But that anger also came with a generous side of relief knowing I no longer had to work for a company where my skills or capabilities weren’t valued.
What happened next?
I spent the minute after that meeting compiling information on everything I had done, ready to handover to the Head of Finance before walking out of that door for one last time. Oh and I had a little anger, and somewhat embarrasment, fuelled sob… I’m only human after all!
Despite the way I had been treated throughout my time with the company, the terms of the redundancy were generous. I was given 8 weeks redundancy pay which I was really grateful for. I understand that won’t be the case for everyone going through redundancy. I know that I’m one of the lucky ones to have been given such a generous redundancy pay. But whatever happens, remember that you’ve got this. Redundancy can be a good thing and you will come out of this stronger.
With that said, redundancy has made me realise that no job is ever really secure so I’m now of the belief that everyone should aim to have at least 1 – 2 months salary saved up in case the unexpected happens. It’s always said that freelancer should have an “emergency fund” but weirdly, that same belief has never been extended towards those in full-time employment. Anyway, I digress…
Because I was made redundant at Christmas, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do any job hunting until after the Christmas period was over. Most companies had already closed their doors and wouldn’t be actively hiring until the new year rolled around. So, I didn’t fret about my redundancy. I wanted to enjoy my Christmas break without worrying about what the future might hold. I trusted that I would figure things out. Everything would come together soon enough and until then, I wouldn’t worry about “what ifs” or worst case scenarios.
So, I sent one simple tweet putting my career update out into the universe then jumped in my car and headed to the motorway and drive home to enjoy an undetermined break from working life.
I was blown away by the number of responses I received to my post. I will be forever grateful for each and everyone of the emails, tweets and direct messages I received. For the first time, the idea of redundancy excited me. It was in this moment that I realised maybe… just maybe, this was my time to shine. Could I turn my redundancy into something positive?
Applying for jobs after redundancy
The Christmas and New Year celebrations came and went. Next thing I know, everyone was heading back to work (well, everyone except me that is) and now was time for me to really start sorting my shit out. I needed to get a job.
From my first day of redundancy, I’d explored the idea of going freelance. The thought of being self-employed filled me with so much joy and excitement. Deep down, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. But was it the right thing for me? Could I, an average girl from Lancashire, really make it as a freelancer? Surely, that could never be me, regardless of how much I wanted it to be. Let me tell you… imposter syndrome is real. I will always be my own worst critic.
Although deep down, I knew I wanted to be my own boss and finally achieve my goal of being a freelance digital marketing consultant, the rule-following, do-gooder inside me liked the security of having a full-time job. While, I didn’t want to rule out the prospect of going freelance, I was too scared to dive straight in. I wasn’t ready to have the security blanket ripped away from me yet and so, I sat down at my office desk and began my job hunt.
In the back of my brain, I knew my redundancy wasn’t a reflection on me. It was a business decision made by senior board members. It wasn’t personal. Yet, every now and again, during my job search those feelings of self-doubt would creep in. Every day, I would sit at my laptop and trawl Indeed looking for new marketing jobs. Inbetween job hunting, I would respond to freelance enquiries and work on freelance projects that I had already secured.
My boyfriend would urge me to take a break and make the most of being off work. But it was fucking terrifying. From an early age, the 9-5 office life of capitalism is ingrained into us. So when it came to being made redundant, I felt lost. I no longer had a job to go to and it was weird. I couldn’t just lounge around doing nothing, that’s not me. So, I spent almost every day of January applying for new jobs. With that said, I recognised that having redundancy pay put me in a privileged position where I could be picky about job prospects, only applying to work at companies where I could really see myself working.
Two weeks into my job hunt, I was invited to interview at a company. Prior to the job interview, I had to submit a 6-minute long video interview. Boy, was that nerve wracking! Honestly, I was ecstatic about the prospect of joining this company. They seemed progressive. They seemed like they valued marketing and yet I could identify so many ways I could further support their business. So, I went ahead with the interview accepting that I could well be rejoining the world of the employed life in the near future.
In the meantime, I also had a meeting with a local marketing agency to discuss supporting them on a freelance basis, secured an ongoing freelance copywriting contract and I had also secured my first freelance client, who I love and still work with today (you know who you are!). They couldn’t be a more perfect fit for me and my values.
Deciding between freelance life vs being a full-time employee
By the end of January, I had secured two clients, maintained my freelance copywriting contract, and worked on an additional freelance project. I had also had numerous calls with other prospects and even turned down some freelance opportunities. I knew early on that I didn’t want to accept every single job that came my way. I had to maintain boundaries and set limits. So, I only accepted work that I truly believed suited me, my values, my rates, and my skills.
At the end of January, after having been invited for a second interview at the company I first interviewed for in January, I was offered a full-time job. After four long weeks of redundancy, it was time for me to make a decision. I had to choose whether to pursue my dream of being freelancer or whether to opt for the security of a full-time job.
Making that decision was no easy feat. I’m indecisive at the best of times. Ask me to choose between pancakes or waffles and I’ll be mulling over the decision for days. So, when it comes to making a decision as big as this, you can bet I was feeling stressed. I weighed up the pros and cons of both options over the weekend. I knew that even if I took the full-time job, I’d still want to continue freelancing. Ultimately, this led to my realisation that freelancing is the option I really wanted to pursue. The main reason why I was considering taking the job was for security… it makes freelancing a whole lot less scary if I know I have that full-time job as a security blanket. With that, my decision was made. I had to be brave and dive into my freelance career with 100% commitment if I really wanted to make it work. So, I drafted up an email politely rejecting the job offer, hit send and sighed a huge sigh of relief (and probably fear).
Six months after redundancy
Six months have passed since I made the decision to go freelance. If it wasn’t for being made redundant, I probably wouldn’t be freelance right now. Despite telling myself that I would one day be self-employed, I’m not sure it ever would have happened if it wasn’t for my redundancy. You see, I relied on the safety and comfort of having a 9-5. Looking back, I can confidently say that redundancy is the best thing that ever happened to me. It’s the thing that made me go after my dream of being a freelance Digital Marketing Consultant.
Yes, it was terrifying. And yes, I’m still bitter towards that company. But, those feelings are menial compared to the sheer joy and excitement I feel about being self-employed. I love it. I have a new found passion for work. I’m excited for every working day and love knowing that I am using my skills to help businesses, and people, that I truly believe in. Hand on heart, I can say I don’t miss working for Monday – Friday filling the pockets of somebody else.
Looking back at my first six months as a freelancer Digital Marketing Consultant, I am immensly proud of how far I’ve come. I’ve worked tirelessly over these past six months to make sure that I succeed as a freelancer. Now, it’s just case of continuing to provide a high-quality service for my clients, building up my freelance business and working hard to make sure that I really do turn this into something amazing. Although, I do also need to work on my work-life balance as a freelancer and make sure I am letting myself rest.
Although redundancy can seem scary, it can also be liberating. So, if you are at risk of redundancy or have recently had the misfortune of being made redundant, be kind to yourself. Stay positive, work hard and trust that things will work out in your favour. You have options and you will get through this… and you never know, it just might lead you onto a new and exciting journey that changes your life for the better.