What to do if you're retrenched
Expert advice on surviving retrenchment.
How to cope
Loss of livelihood rates in the top 10 stressors of life - enough said. Psychologist and career expert Dr Gloria Marsay advises:
• If a counselling service has been provided by your former organisation, make use of it. Or talk to someone who has successfully survived retrenchment.
• Don’t live in the past, either by idealising or damning the organisation that retrenched you. Take your time, grieve, and then move on.
• Ask family/friends for their support and suggestions for other work.
• Do some reflection and planning – bounce ideas off people you trust, and acknowledge that initially you may find it difficult to engage in more rational, less emotional thinking.
• Take stock of your financial assets, and your personal assets such as your attributes and marketable skills.
• Reconnect with family, friends and your professional network.
• Do voluntary work to give you a sense of purpose and to maintain a daily routine (it will also look good on your CV).)
• Eat well, sleep well, and exercise.
What if family or friends are retrenched?
In the beginning, resist the temptation to give advice, especially advice like ‘be strong’, ‘pull your socks up’ or ‘get out there’. Once your friend/family member is over the initial shock, and feels stronger, then you can offer to be a sounding board, helping her to reflect on what it is she does well, and what work she would like to do in future.
You’ll experience retrenchment emotionally, but it is clear thinking and decision-making that will help you successfully survive the process, says labour attorney Alexander Rocher of Farrell & Associates, a Durban-based firm specialising in labour law.
• Don’t allow a retrenchment to become the defining moment of your life.
• Principles can cost you. Don’t litigate to get even, save face or prove a point – you won’t.
• If you challenge your retrenchment, seek proper advice – and take it.
• Partake in the consultation process, make sensible representations, ask relevant questions and check the minutes of meetings thoroughly.
• Ensure that your company gives you your pension or provident withdrawal forms for signature, duly completed and signed by them, so that you can lodge them with your fund administrator for investment elsewhere.
• You are entitled to unemployment benefits. Your employer must lodge the UI 19 Form with the Department of Labour.
• Currently, the first R30 000 of your package is tax-free – an employer who follows good practice will obtain a tax directive from SARS at the time of dismissal. Your IRP 5 will be sent to you at the end of the tax year, not when you leave.
• Should you feel that your retrenchment is unfair, refer an alleged unfair dismissal dispute to the CCMA on an LRA 7.11 Form (available from www.ccma.org.za) within 30 days of your dismissal, and attend the CCMA conciliation session. The dispute will then be referred to either the CCMA or the Labour Courts.