Advice column: there is talk of office redundancies; should I start looking for alternative employment?

Dear Ash

Our organisation is currently undergoing reorganisation, and rumours are afloat that there are likely to be redundancies. I am feeling under pressure from the uncertainty surrounding my future and I don’t know whether I should look for alternative employment or await the outcome of the current round of negotiations between senior management. The lack of communication and the uncertainty are taking its toll on my health and I feel that I need to have some clarity. I like my job and the people, but as the main breadwinner I’m conscious that I could not afford to lose my job.

Ash replies:

I can sympathise, as I too have experienced the uncertainty and stress associated with such transitional situations. You will need to weigh up the options for yourself, as only you can know whether there is a strong likelihood of you facing redundancy. If you have been at the firm for a number of years then it may be in your interest to await a decision from the company, as you may be offered an attractive redundancy package which will then give you some time to assess your circumstances and decide what you want to do career wise.

However, if you are not feeling secure in your job and you do not think that there will be much in the way of redundancy money owed to you (you might want to seek help from an employment law adviser or Citizens Advice if you are in any doubt), then it may be worth your while looking at alternative employment as a plan B. Looking around for other jobs may also mean that you have a head start to others who may also need to look for employment once a decision has been made.

Whatever decisions are eventually made by your employer, you will probably need to prepare yourself for some change – i.e. even if you are kept on at the firm, there is likely to be some impact on remaining staff, perhaps in the form of more responsibility due to fewer staff being available. Therefore try to prepare yourself mentally for any change by developing effective coping strategies to deal with any stress. For example, some people find comfort in speaking about concerns with friends/family; others by trying yoga or other exercise as an outlet for venting frustrations. Whatever works for you, try to make time for yourself, to allow you to prepare for the challenges ahead. 

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and trainees, which can be put to her via the editor:, or mail to Suite 6b, 1 Carmichael Place, Edinburgh EH6 5PH. Confidence will be respected and any advice published will be anonymised.

Please note that letters to Ash are not received at the Law Society of Scotland. The Society offers a support service for trainees through its Education, Training & Qualifications team. For one-to-one advice contact Katie Wood, head of admissions on 0131 476 8162 or by email:
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