Five tips for managing job loss

Redundancies may be a routine part of the employment landscape but this does not make it any easier for those who face losing their job in this way. Being told you are no longer needed at your organisation can trigger a variety of emotions and lead to considerable uncertainty about your professional future.

However, should you find yourself in this situation there are some things to consider to ensure you are being treated fairly and to maximise your chances of emerging with a positive outlook on your future career.

Check your rights

If an employer has no other choice than to make redundancies, there are strict rules that it must follow and these may differ slightly depending on where you are in the world.

International rules around redundancy


Redundancy legislation differs across European countries, but there are also EU-wide regulations that employers must also adhere to.  Whether or not a lay‑off is considered a collective redundancy depends on the overall head‑count  and the number of staff that may be laid off. If employers are planning a collective redundancy, they must begin consultations with staff representatives in good time and give them written notice of the reasons for the lay-off, the number of staff to be made redundant and the criteria for the selection of staff to be made redundant. The employer should also inform the public authority of these points.


The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) protects employees by requiring most employers with 100 or more personnel to give at least 60 days’ notice before plant closings and mass layoffs. In other contexts employers are not required to provide employees with notice of termination; in many cases employment is still treated as being ‘at-will’, which means that either the employer or the employee can terminate the relationship for any lawful reason, without notice.


A 30-to-90-day notice period is standard for terminating employment for any reason.  Government approval is needed to lay off more than 100 members working in a manufacturing plant, mine or plantation unit. Lay offs in other sectors require only a government notification. For mass termination in protected sectors, three months of wages must be offered to employees. In other redundancy situations, one month’s salary must be paid to employees who have worked for at least a year; they are also entitled to 15 days’ average pay for each complete year of continuous service.


Redundancy is rigorously restricted, considered a last resort and is only permitted where employers have no other options available. No collective dismissal process exists under Japanese law.

In the UK, first and foremost: ‘people need to be told that they are at risk of redundancy, it’s really important that that’s the message and there will be an announcement to everybody affected and then you will go through a consultation period,’ explains Laura Woodward, career and professional development adviser at the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC).

The process an organisation must then follow depends on the number of redundancies it is making; if there are 20 or more employees affected, the employer must hold a collective consultation, and if there are fewer than 20, each person should be consulted individually.

‘During that consultation period, you have the right to suggest alternatives to that redundancy; are there opportunities for you to be redeployed somewhere else in the organisation or is there an opportunity to take voluntary redundancy that may mitigate the other redundancies?’ Woodward says. ’It’s your opportunity to put your case together and to get additional information.’

Once the consultation period has ended, those affected will get a formal notice of redundancy that will outline the terms of the redundancy; what the notice period is, if there is garden leave and what support the organisation can provide.

There are resources available to help you check your rights if you’ve been made redundant. For example, in the UK, Citizens Advice can provide a wealth of information for those facing redundancy including advice on challenging redundancy, redundancy pay, notice periods and options if your employer offers you another job.

If you are a member of a professional body, such as the RSC, it can provide support and advice. And, in the case of a redundancy process that appears in any way unfair, union representatives within the organisation will be able to discuss that with you.

Finally, if you’re considering taking an employer to a tribunal, which you should only do after trying to resolve the problem with them directly, you should approach an organisation that offers a dispute resolution service, such as the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service in the UK, as they may be able to solve the situation while avoiding a tribunal.

Don’t rush into anything

‘This is absolutely key’, says Woodward. ’It’s extremely natural to panic and there are valid reasons for that; you’ve got bills to pay.’

As well as being a difficult prospect to face, redundancy can present a chance to reassess. Woodward says individuals should take the time to consider their core skills, key experiences and knowledge and identify the aspects of the job they enjoyed and those they don’t want to do anymore.

All that experience that you’ve built up, it belongs to you

‘When you’ve been doing a job for a long time, it’s easy to lose sight of what value you have,’ Woodward explains. ‘One of the messages we’ve always tried to get out to people, is that the skills that you possess, the knowledge that you possess, all that experience that you’ve built up, it belongs to you, it doesn’t belong to that organisation.’

And depending on the situation, redundancy packages can enable people to retrain or take some time out. Ivan Marziano, who was recently made redundant after working at his organisation for 25 years, says the situation gave him the chance to think about the new opportunities that could await him, from taking on different challenges to gaining new skills.

Ask for help

‘Don’t be shy to ask for help – there’s people who have been in a similar situation before, and even complete strangers will be very happy to help you if they can,’ says Marziano. ‘Sometimes even informal networking; a friend of a friend works in Company X and you want to know more about the company, etc. It might not land you a job, but it will land you a contact and a greater awareness of the opportunities out there.’

However, asking for help might not just be about finding new opportunities, says Robert Bowles, a career and professional development adviser at the RSC, as being made redundant can be an extremely difficult process. ‘Getting help isn’t just about getting another job, it might be getting some help to deal with what’s happened to them,’ he explains.

Look after your mental wellbeing

Losing a job through redundancy can trigger many emotions and it’s important to give yourself time to process and come to terms with these feelings. ‘The word “redundant” has got such awful connotations for the individual like “you’re not worth anything”, and it’s very hard not to take that personally,’ says Woodward.

Marziano says that being made redundant ‘was a strange combination of sheer shock and disbelief’. He talks about the grief that he and many of his colleagues have felt ever since the announcement was made, not just about the loss of a job but about the loss of a community. ‘We have built a culture, we have built certain scientific ways of working, and [we’re] really just mourning the passing of that,’ he adds.

By contrast, Bowles says that he found the experience of being made redundant 25 years ago ‘quite liberating’. ‘I thought, I don’t need to do this anymore, I can go and do something else,’ he explains. ‘So it’s important to recognise that some people might find it very liberating, while others might go through a physical grieving of what might have been. It’s completely normal, it’s not that you’re falling apart, it’s a natural response to those circumstances.’

Manage your money

Money and mental health can be closely interlinked and creating a budget could be a good first step if you’re not sure where to start.

For RSC members, the Chemists’ Community Fund (CCF) is the best first point of contact, says Bowles. The CCF provides all kinds of support – online or via telephone – from financial assistance to employment and career advice. It also runs events, webinars and workshops to support RSC members and their families.

‘The other thing you can bear in mind is that you could get a non-scientific role, just to keep some money coming,’ suggests Bowles.

‘It’s really easy to think you’ve got to hold off until you get your dream job but you’ve got to be realistic about your financial situation, whatever that is. And don’t be put off because you think it’ll look bad on your CV or because you think it’ll impact your career. It won’t,’ he adds.

How to support colleagues who have been made redundant

‘Just be a good human, be empathetic and understanding,’ says Robert Bowles.

Laura Woodward highlights that it can be ‘extremely difficult’ for people facing redundancy to stay motivated: ‘Whether it’s a colleague at peer level or you’re the line manager, it’s about recognising that and supporting those people.’

More broadly, she says that when a colleague is going through redundancy, it is important to reach out to them and ask if there is anything that you can help with and what support they might want.

‘Ultimately one of the really core things that people can utilise in their job searches is their network, so if you’re willing to reach out to your network for someone else, that’s going to support them.’

As well as coping with being made redundant himself, Ivan Marziano has been supporting his colleagues who were  affected.

‘I’ve encouraged my colleagues to look at the sphere of control model and think about the feelings, the situations that we can control, versus the things that are outside of our control. It can be a very slippery slope and it’s very important that we keep an eye out for one another.

‘I used to spend one day a week working from home, I’m now in every day of the week, just to make sure we spend some time together helping one another; [it’s about] communal support.’