Retrenchment – what should I do now?

Retrenchment isn’t getting rid of the person: it is getting rid of the role.

Retrenchment – what should I do now?

Retrenchment is one of life’s most stressful events. While losing your job this way might feel like rejection, it's not. Retrenchment isn’t discarding the person; it's dispensing the role.

Whether the decision to take retrenchment is yours or it is something over which you don’t have control, it can be an unsettling time full of mixed emotions. You might feel angry or suffer a loss of confidence, or you may be relieved that now you have a chance to do something different. If you have worked in the same job for a long time the idea of such a change can seem overwhelming.

Here are some of the things to hold onto if you are facing this challenge. Although it is not necessarily an ending you may have wished for, it represents a new beginning with all the opportunities that can bring.

Know your rights
An employer is legally bound to consult with its employees (and their union), through a process called consultation, if they wish to dismiss 15 or more employees.

You will usually be entitled to redundancy pay, otherwise known as severance pay, and you should be told during consultation how much you will receive. Severance pay may not be paid in all circumstances, for example by a very small business, or to casual workers. The amount of severance pay to which you are entitled is linked to your length of continuous service with your employer; this does not include any unpaid leave. If you lose your job because your employer goes into administration/liquidation, you may be able to get financial help from the Australian Government.

Keep a clear head
Your sense of security can be undermined and you may initially feel shock. If you can remind yourself about what you are good at and look to polish up skills that you may not have had to call on recently, this will help you to stay positive.

Prepare a budget
You may be about to receive a large payout from your employer, but before you spend it all work out how much you will need to live on until you find new work. Start with a budget and list all the costs you incur, including for mortgage or rent, utilities, food, transport costs, and insurance. Remember to think about your super, too; any break in employment will affect your super balance.

During any period for which you have been paid severance you will not be eligible for Centrelink payments. If you are not paid any severance, you may be entitled to Centrelink benefits including those to assist with any retraining.

Accept help
If you are offered help from your employer to find a new job, such as career counselling to update your CV, or work profile, take it. There may be other suitable roles within the company for which you can apply. Ask your current employer to provide a reference for you so that you have this ready for applications for new roles.

Plan what you might do next
Being told that your job is no longer required is a good opportunity to think about what you might want from your next role. Perhaps in your most recent employment the hours haven’t suited you, or there are skills you haven’t recently had a chance to use. You might pursue further training to gain new qualifications.

You could think about volunteering, which will give you a chance to try something completely different, and may lead to new employment, or an idea for a different role.

Take a break
Going through retrenchment can be a very draining experience, so try to allow yourself to have some time out; if you have prepared a budget for living, you may have some money leftover for that trip you have always wished you had the time to take.

Read more at Australian Department of Employment website. See also the DHS website’s redundancy page. Another helpful resource is the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Have you ever been affected by redundancy or are you facing this situation now? What steps did you take to face this challenge?



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    9th Feb 2017
    I am facing the prospect of being told " goodbye" - Now reduced to 4 days only - Business has shrunk due to inefficiency by the GM - and his lack of real business acumen. Being the only person left out of 5 women - the GM and office Manager.. so no redundancy for me after 29 years of commitment to this CO. At 63 and having a mortgage, my only option will be to sell and relocate wherever I can afford to live and own my own property. I have started to budget my life as I may never get another job at the level of pay that I receive now. It is the most daunting and stressful position to be in.. sometimes I feel it is suffocating me - I try to build business, but when you have someone (GM) that does not even go out and visit customers anymore as we have no more reps throughout Australia, how can this business possibly grow. I love this site as it give me so much information that I can at least arm myself with and prepare for the inevitable.
    9th Feb 2017
    My god Magnolia, EXACTLY same as me! I am single 64 yo woman, and was given my marching orders yesterday. Like you, I am no eligible fo a redundancy, have a big mortgage, and am no eligible for any Centrelink due to my paid out annual leave. Like you I will have to sell and find somewhere cheaper, probably out in the boondocks somewhere, as there is NO chance of me getting another job. I recently met up with some family staying at a caravan park, and was stunned at the number of older people permanently living there. Is all they can afford. How on earth can the Govt expect you to work till 70 when employers WILL NOT employ us? I feel for you, because I am in exact same space.
    9th Feb 2017
    Sorry to hear this for both of you.
    Been there & have compassion!

    Unfortunately, this is the current "Reality of Life" as many of our jobs have been exported overseas, the job market is extremely tight and - as you suggest - impossible for people our age!

    As for the govt. legislating us to work till 70 years old, this is quite a "Simple Equation".
    They don't care IF jobs are not available as they provide "Jobstart Allowance for those who cannot find jobs until they're 70 rather than until they're 65. That's a saving of more than $5,000.00 per year for 5 years for each individual!
    As you would be well aware, the JS allowance is about $100.00 per week LESS and allowances are also not provided.

    So, just people being thrown "On the scrap heap" is NOT important./ Saving money is!!!

    Why don't they get the FatCats to pay their "Fair Share" of Taxation and put a "LOADING" (per job exported) on the labour export as practiced by the FATCATS to BALANCE the BOOKS.

    Occasional Traveller
    9th Feb 2017
    Investigate with Commonwealth as to what your entitlements are, so you know what you should be getting. I believe over 50s are entitled to an extra week severance pay. ( friend told me this and if I hadn't checked I would have been only paid out the standard allowance)
    9th Feb 2017
    Yes - that's true - but one weeks pay is sure not going to go far.
    Occasional Traveller
    9th Feb 2017
    Well I'd rather be getting the additional weeks pay than not. Unclear as to the what you are saying in your comment in2sunset
    9th Feb 2017
    This has happened to me three times in the last 15 years. 10 things I 'learned':

    1. It sucks!
    2. They say it isn't personal, but it still feels like it!
    3. NEVER say you have been 'sacked'. You haven't!
    4. Take time to grieve, get angry, have a cry, throw yourself a pity party and really wallow in it. And Enjoy it.
    5. Then let it go. Hanging on to the hurt only inflicts more harm on yourself. It certainly doesn't affect those who a)delivered the message or b) those who made the decision to make you redundant.
    6. Don't 'bad mouth' the previous employer, Manager, workmates to all and sundry. You never know when that may come back to 'bite you on the bum'!
    7. Don't delay registering with Centerlink after your final day. You may not get immediate payment, but you can get the process started.
    8. Treat looking for work as your new job. Get up, get dressed and get to work.
    9. Get out of the house everyday, even just to buy the newspaper or a bottle of milk. Make it somewhere you have to talk to someone.
    10. Do something you really enjoy at least once a week. This is YOUR time, do those things you didn't have time for when you were working.

    Good luck to both of you Magnolia and in2sunset. And remember, 'this too shall pass'.
    12th Feb 2017
    Good advice, KSS.
    Retrenchments of the forced variety should be banned unless the company / Office is shutting down, as a) they allow Discrimination without stating it, b) they destroy people's self-esteem, c) ability to plan finances for themselves & family, and d) destroy career progression unfairly for affected people.
    People's lives, not Companies, are more important but our right wing leaning political leaders don't get it.

    9th Feb 2017
    Redundancies are terrible, more so when you are in your 50's and there are no jobs out there for the young let alone seniors

    My best advice is to cut expenditure to the bare minimum

    If you have a home - downsize, move to a cheaper area, get rid of all debts

    Newstart allowance is hard enough to live on without a mortgage or rent so if you can sell up and buy a studio or 1 bedroom - DO IT !!!

    you be will be surprised how little one can live on i f one cuts out all unnecessary spending

    Live frugal - it can be done and you will be a hghappier person

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