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Diary with notes and a marker pen on wooden tableGiven the uncertainty in the professional services marketplace at the moment in the UK as a result of Brexit, there are several firms making redundancies or planning to make redundancies in the new year. This article looks at that you should do if you find that you WILL be leaving your firm either as a result of redundancy or compromise agreement.

Retain your personal dignity

It is time to leave. But, this is not the time to shout and scream at the person handling your exit from the firm.

Your firm’s HR team are there to do a job on behalf of the partners. They are human being too, and have thoughts and feelings just like you. Just as you don’t come into work to be shouted at, they don’t either. I’ve personally been in the situation where my key contact within the HR advisor team I worked with extensively, had to, ultimately, make me redundant. It can’t have been any easier for them!

Aim to save the emotional stuff for your friends and family outside of work. After all, that is partly why you have a support team. Leave with your head held high in a professional manner!

Don’t burn any bridges

You may still be feeling very bitter, but the time has come to emotionally and physically move on.

In the current economic climate you are more likely than ever to find a new role or work either directly or indirectly from someone that you have worked with. (For a free networking plan and relationship plan template to help your networking, click here) From what I can see there are firms doing exceptionally well who can’t seem to recruit the right people for love nor money. The current uncertainty in the marketplace is on a very different footing to the global recession which really bit in 2009 and 2010 within professional services. If you have left with dignity you will find that there are more colleagues from your soon-to-be-former firm who will be prepared to help you find your next role.

100% of my first assignments, in the first six months after going freelance came directly or indirectly from someone that I had worked with at my previous employers.

In addition, it is always worth parting on good terms with your firm so as not to run the risk of prejudicing any future reference they may be asked to provide on your behalf. Most employers will now only provide a company reference which will say something very similar to this statement… ‘xxx worked here from xxx to xxx’. However, you are normally asked to provide personal references from people you have worked for – e.g. your assignment leader, manager, a peer.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post about what to do if you find your job is placed at risk, professional services is a very small world. Everyone really does seem to know everyone else. Don’t damage your future career prospects by burning any bridges or damaging your reputation on the way out from a firm.

Take control over the process

As a veteran of being made redundant or getting the sack, I can say from personal experience often the hardest part of the process is not being in control. The more than you can take back control of the process you are in, often the easier it is to move gracefully through the process and bounce back quicker.

Do take someone you trust into your individual consultation meetings. They are not allowed to answer questions directed to you – however, they can address the hearing and confer with you during the hearing. They can also take notes for you – which may be needed if you decide to take your firm to tribunal.

Think creatively about your total exit “package”

Before you start to negotiate with your former firm work out what is important to you, and work out what is a nice to have. Your firm will have already told you what may be important to them via the terms of a compromise agreement. There are lots of variables, that don’t involve money, that you can negotiate with your former firm:

  • notice period
  • clients you can take with you to your new firm
  • waiving your any restrictive covenants about who you can act for
  • content of your reference
  • who you can go to work for next
  • who you can take with you to a future firm
  • how quickly you can contact clients of your soon-to-be former firm
  • intellectual property
  • kit or equipment you can take with you etc.

Before signing anything….

Before you sign anything – especially any document that waives your entitlement to take your former employer to an employment tribunal, get the document checked over by a solicitor specialising in employment law. (We recommend Christopher Head of Irenicon to all our UK based clients) Keep copies of all your correspondence and notes from meetings.

What’s a realistic amount to ask for as a payoff?

It all depends on what your employer has previously paid out to other people, what you would get if you went to tribunal and how draconian the compromise agreement is. A decent employment lawyer, such as Christopher Head, should be able to advise you what amount of money you should ask for.