Advice column: I feel guilty that my friend was made redundant and not me

Dear Ash,

My friend and I were both recently considered for redundancy and although I managed to retain my job, my friend has not been so fortunate. I am, of course, pleased that I still have a job but I am feeling really guilty about my friend. She is the main breadwinner in her household and has a family to support, whereas I am single with no major financial or personal commitments at present. I met up with my friend recently and she was not in a good way and seems downcast about her future; I’m sure she didn’t mean to take it out on me, but she did say that I did not have as much experience as her and she didn’t understand why she was selected. I am unclear of the exact reasons behind the final decision, but I want to be able to help my friend move forward.

Ash replies:

A redundancy is often likened to a person going through a grieving process. For most people, a job is normally at the centre of their lives, with most spending more time at work than at home nowadays; therefore, having to forcibly leave a job will often result in the added complications of feelings of rejection and inadequacy. Your friend is therefore understandably upset and will inevitably be questioning the rationale behind the decision.

All that you can do at this precarious time is to be there for your friend and to help her through it by staying positive and being a good listener. I also suggest that she take some legal advice if she feels that there were issues in regard to how the redundancy process was dealt with. There can sometimes be questions around the fairness of the process and she should seek independent advice if she feels strongly about it.

Separately, you should also consider suggesting that your friend seek support from organisations such as LawCare in order to ensure that she address any issues in regard to her mental health. Talking through her feelings with an independent person could be important as it may allow her to address her true feelings freely without feeling awkward around family and, indeed, friends. 

On a positive note, in time the redundancy may result in being a relatively positive turn in your friend’s life and may indeed open up new opportunities for her. I know this from my own experience of having endured the pain of redundancy through the 2008 credit crunch. Life does go on and things will get better – hang on in there!

Send your queries to Ash

“Ash” is a solicitor who is willing to answer work-related queries from solicitors and other legal professionals, 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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