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Understanding redundancy


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#1 Dadto2

Posted 10 October 2019 - 10:53 AM

I work in IT for a large uni and we are about to go through another restructure, which will mean redundancies. I don't know if my job is under threat as I don't really understand the whole redundancy process.

My basic understanding is, for example, Rio Tinto automate their trains, no longer need drivers, so the position becomes redundant. However I have work to do. If I get made redundant, they will have to get someone in to replace me, which they can't do, as far as I know. This issue is the team I work in (and other teams) go through peaks and troughs with our workload, during the year, largely due to the fact we are a uni and have semesters and uni holidays.

This has never sat well with new senior managers, CIOs etc i.e they see it as a waste of resources. For 2 months, we could have as little as 2 hours of work to do a day. So we stand out like a sore thumb when it comes to a restructure. Different CIOs have tried different approaches, culling our team, which is fine for the quiet times, then we are overloaded and can't cope. They tried bringing in contractors, which was too expensive and the latest was introducing "cross-skilling" where we learned different technical skills so we could help out other teams. Which had limited success.

Anyway we have a newish CIO and I'm sure we will be in the firing line. If I was to be made redundant, do I just accept it and move on? I suppose they can point out that for certain periods of the year, they don't have enough work for me. But then 8 months of the year they do.

Edited by Dadto2, 10 October 2019 - 11:10 AM.


#2 jayskette

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:06 AM

So you are hoping to explain that they can't fire you because they will need you heaps for 8 months of the year?
It sounds pretty silly.

#3 Luci

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:08 AM

Redundancies can be a bit of a grey area. If you can afford it could you make an appointment with a lawyer who specializes in employment and at least try to be as well informed as possible about what is legally allowed and your rights etc.  Do you think it would be difficult for you to find another job if you had to?

#4 MsLaurie

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:10 AM

Why did the cross-skilling not work?
Are there longer term priorities that can be worked on during the quiet times?

#5 Mose

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:12 AM

In theory, they can't make your role redundant if they still need it (i.e. make person 1 redundant and then immediately recruit person 2 to do exactly the same job is not ok)..  But if you are currently in a trough, there is little to stop them from making the role redundant now and re-recruiting later as I understand it.

That and it's not overly onerous for an organisation to re-define roles in a way that they aren't making one redundant and then recruiting for exactly the same thing, I don't think it takes over much to say the new role isn't exactly the same.

I wouldn't be looking to fight a redundancy, it's unlikely to be successful, even if it were you are then working where you know you aren't wanted, and depending how small the circles in which you work are, it may make looking for a new role in the future difficult if future recruiters have heard tell that you make life difficult for an employer.

Is all of that fair? No.  Is it the hill I would choose to die on? Also no.

#6 Dadto2

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:13 AM

View PostLuci, on 10 October 2019 - 11:08 AM, said:

Redundancies can be a bit of a grey area. If you can afford it could you make an appointment with a lawyer who specializes in employment and at least try to be as well informed as possible about what is legally allowed and your rights etc.  Do you think it would be difficult for you to find another job if you had to?


An employment lawyer is an excellent idea. I'm not sure at what stage to engage one. And I might not be made redundant.

There is work out there, not sure how many people I will be competing against though.

#7 Dadto2

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:16 AM

View PostMsLaurie, on 10 October 2019 - 11:10 AM, said:

Why did the cross-skilling not work?
Are there longer term priorities that can be worked on during the quiet times?

Long story, but for example I started learning some new skills, worked with a different team, but then I would get work from my actual team, I was then almost juggling two roles and it didn't work.

#8 Dadto2

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:22 AM

View PostMose, on 10 October 2019 - 11:12 AM, said:

I wouldn't be looking to fight a redundancy, it's unlikely to be successful,

That's pretty much what most people have told me. A colleague who had been made redundant previously, said if they want to get rid of you, they will find a way....


View PostMose, on 10 October 2019 - 11:12 AM, said:

even if it were you are then working where you know you aren't wanted

A valid point, although the people making the decisions might not be making the right ones. The last restructure, we paid hundreds of thousands of $$ for Deloitte to come in to manage the restructure. It was described by many as "farcical".  People that should have gone, stayed and vice versa. We all got whacky new job titles that were meaningless and irrelevant and teams (including ours) who were going through quiet periods actually got more staff, when we could have done with dropping some.

So I feel that the decision makers, perhaps aren't in touch with what is really going on in the various teams. At least for that restructure they weren't.

Edited by Dadto2, 10 October 2019 - 11:23 AM.


#9 Lady Gray

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:25 AM

Your example isn't quite correct as it misses the redeployment aspect of a redundancy.  i.e. the employer needs to determine that that the person's job is no longer required and they can't redeploy that person within the organisation.

Also, the whole point of a redundancy is that the person shouldn't be replaced as the job no longer exists or the roles performed by the job have been reallocated to other people within the organisation.

I've extracted the relevant section of the act below:

FAIR WORK ACT 2009 - SECT 389
Meaning of genuine redundancy
             (1)  A person's dismissal was a case of genuine redundancy if:

                     (a)  the person's employer no longer required the person's job to be performed by anyone because of changes in the operational requirements of the employer's enterprise; and

                     (b)  the employer has complied with any obligation in a modern award or enterprise agreement that applied to the employment to consult about the redundancy.

             (2)  A person's dismissal was not a case of genuine redundancy if it would have been reasonable in all the circumstances for the person to be redeployed within:

                     (a)  the employer's enterprise; or

                     (b)  the enterprise of an associated entity of the employer.

#10 Luci

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:31 AM

if you can afford it and have time you could just make an initial one off appointment with a specialist employment lawyer now, just to arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. Doesn’t mean that if you are made redundant you need to fight it, but at least you would understand your rights and options.

At the very least perhaps you could research the names and contact details of one or two good employment lawyers that you could contact if you need to down the track.  



#11 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:32 AM

If you work for a uni and you feel your job might be made redundant, join the union (NTEU). They have had some success in helping to get people re-deployed into different departments/sections when redundancies have loomed. Not always successful, but it might be of help.

#12 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:33 AM

View PostDadto2, on 10 October 2019 - 11:22 AM, said:

A colleague who had been made redundant previously, said if they want to get rid of you, they will find a way....
this is true for any job.

#13 Lady Gray

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:36 AM

I'm not sure it's worth spending money on a lawyer before anything has happened unless you can get a free consultation to understand how a redundancy works and what you would be entitled to as a redundancy package.

The advice I'd give is if you get called into a meeting where they start discussing redundancy, stop the meeting and ask for a support person to be present to record the details of what is said.  You're likely to be too shocked to ask questions or follow what is being said.

ETA:  having worked for a huge corporation and been involved in many redundancies as hard as it is just put it out of your mind or if you are unhappy find another job or if you are ready to go offer to take voluntary redundancy.

I also think now is a great time to find out about retraining or doing additional training (especially if the company will pay for it) so that it become additional qualification you can add to your CV.  The company I worked for encouraged additional training and paid for it as well and we had a number of people who took advantage of this during uncertain times to their benefit!

Get your CV ready, meet with recruiters and update your linked in profile.  Essentially, prepare for the worst whilst you are still in the job.

I saw instances over several years where roles would be targeted for a redundancy and then they wouldn't be anymore because they'd determined they could redeploy or that the knock on effect would be too great or it wasn't the right time.  It effectively became death by a thousand cuts despite everyone in senior management insisting that 'this time' it wouldn't be!

Edited by Lady Gray, 10 October 2019 - 11:58 AM.


#14 28 Barbary Lane

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:37 AM

With the contractors, do you think they would just make your whole department redundant, then bring contractors in only in the busy period, or would they still need to retain a core small group (or individual) on a permanent basis, with contractors used to fill in at busy times?

The core group plus contractors is pretty much what’s happened with us for the last 10 years.  The union stopped the initial attempts at staff redundancies and the attempts at eroding staff benefits that followed so if you are in a union I would contact them, see if they can help at all.

#15 Nasty Poobah

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:39 AM

As someone who took a voluntary redundancy package from a large uni and whose partner has subsequently been made redundant from a private company I'll offer the following observations...

Non voluntary redundancy can be demoralizing but you want to do your level best to maximise your benefits so:

1. Make sure you're a union member and make sure they're negotiating hard on the redundancy packages. If you've been there a while it'll be substantial.

2. Work out the full redundancy period to maximise your benefits. In some cases you negate any benefits if you leave before this period is up. This doesn't stop you looking for other jobs in this period though.

3. Look after yourself -- self care is important.

ETA: this is if it comes to that, it may well not!

Edited by Nasty Poobah, 10 October 2019 - 11:40 AM.


#16 *Spikey*

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:51 AM

I also went through a redundancy process a few years back. Look at it as an opportunity to review your options and career path.

My advice is to start reviewing your resume now, and consider getting a professional recruitment advisor to give you feedback. I did, and it really improved my prospects.

Use LinkedIn, Seek and other places to build a profile, so you can be seen.  Browse the vacancies and see what's out there.

Maximise your package, so work through your redundancy period rather than taking leave - and use sick leave where you can, rather than going to work when you're sick.

Do some career planning ahead of time. This job suits you now, but where will you be in 5 years, 10 years?

I decided on a major career change - law to teaching. Best decision ever, and my redundancy payout paid for the uni degree that got me there.

I am now trying to decide what I want to achieve over the next ten years, apart from enjoying my job. It's a conundrum, one that I'm so pleased to be able to have.

#17 Ruf~Feral~es

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:52 AM

I also recommend the union, to you and all your colleagues.  Group bargaining will be easier than individual, if it becomes necessary.

Having said that, with so many uni's moving to seasonal employment, they may just do that.  So they can make you redundant based on the lack of need for a full time role, and then readvertise a similar role that is seasonal, and encourage you to reapply....... based on a lower wage and/or different conditions.

I know with the Govt redundancies that I was a part of, we couldn't reapply for a Govt role for the length of time of your payout, so it you got 6 months pay, you couldn't reapply for a Govt job for 6 months.  Not sure if that's just a Govt thing though?

Amazing how many people just got a lovely long paid holiday then came back into a very similar role.  huge waste of money.

#18 lozoodle

Posted 10 October 2019 - 11:56 AM

I wouldn't bother seeking an employment lawyer. Chances are your company has a legal team instructing them on this restructure anyway and will get around any loopholes. If your role, as it is right now, is no longer needed, then its a genuine redundancy.
Lots of companies get around this by creating new roles that incorporate some aspects of your old role, but are effectively not the same.
You will get given a list of open & available roles you can apply for but chances are none of them will be suitable.
As pp said, if they want you to go, you will go. Happens everywhere all the time.
I'd wait until you hear more info. It can be a lengthy process. We are going through it here as well as a lot of processes are trying to be moved off shore. My job will be in the line at some point as well but there's no real info as to WHAT is going to happen yet (two years into the process and yes some entire departments have gone).
I'm actually hoping for it though. Annoying. Those who want it never get it and those who don't always seem to!

Edited by lozoodle, 10 October 2019 - 12:02 PM.


#19 MsLaurie

Posted 10 October 2019 - 12:48 PM

It’s also often the case that when big organisations restructure and are looking at redundancies, they’ll prefer voluntary redundancies as a first step. If you think there’s a reasonable chance of other employment, then you should seriously look at what is proposed in any voluntary packages offered. Both my Dad (power industry) and DH (government) took voluntary redundancies and the sudden injection of a substantial sum made a huge difference to their lives, especially as they were both lucky enough to line up new roles that started almost immediately after.
Not everyone is so lucky, but it can be a brilliant thing if you’re already in the headspace of “maybe there’s something else out there...”

#20 darcswan

Posted 10 October 2019 - 01:19 PM

View Postlozoodle, on 10 October 2019 - 11:56 AM, said:

Lots of companies get around this by creating new roles that incorporate some aspects of your old role, but are effectively not the same.

Yeah. Employers are able to redistribute tasks and responsibilities to the point the original role is redundant. The task doesn't have to be redundant.

So take a helpdesk - people will still need to have their password reset, but that could be automated, given to an external partner who flexes with seasonal demand, or redistributed to another similar function, like the network/device maintenance team (for instance).

Most companies do have legal advice on redundancies, but if it does happen its worth doing some research to make sure its all kosher

#21 Heather11

Posted 10 October 2019 - 01:19 PM

I don't understand why a business would go through a redundancy to then employ people into the same position.  Unless of course they didn't like the person in that job.

From my understanding paying out people is pretty expensive. Redundancy pay, long service leave, annual leave.  If they are just going to replace that person then they are not saving money at all.

OP, you said they brought in contractors.  Maybe they need to employ temporary staff for the periods they are busy, ie don't work during holidays.  I work in a school and I don't work or get paid during school holidays.

#22 Dadto2

Posted 10 October 2019 - 02:17 PM

View Postdarcswan, on 10 October 2019 - 01:19 PM, said:

Yeah. Employers are able to redistribute tasks and responsibilities to the point the original role is redundant. The task doesn't have to be redundant.

So take a helpdesk - people will still need to have their password reset, but that could be automated, given to an external partner who flexes with seasonal demand, or redistributed to another similar function, like the network/device maintenance team (for instance).

Most companies do have legal advice on redundancies, but if it does happen its worth doing some research to make sure its all kosher

Gotcha.

I guess the only thing that is not quite kosher, is how things have developed in my team. We have a manager, he is technical, although it's a non-technical role, 2 senior technical leads and 6 others under them. This team structure has been around for years and is a bit outdated, we don't really need the senior guys and don't really need a manager. The senior roles were there, originally, to help with the extra workload and primarily as a point of escalation if we were unable to resolves issues.

However because we are the ones at the coal face, our technical skills are fairly high (higher than the senior leads) and they are rarely able to help. However what has happened in the last few months is that they have been taking some of our work and they have been a bit duplicitous in the way they went about it.

I look after a financial application and have done for 8 years, I only found out that of the senior guys had been upgrading it when he cocked up and sheepishly asked for help. I didn't raise it with my manager as we all get on. But then I digged deeper and could see lots of work was being withheld. My manager has also started "helping out" with technical work and himself and the 2 seniors are away on a training course this week......

So I can understand an outsider looking in might not fully understand the team dynamics, workload, how work is supposed to be distributed etc

#23 Dadto2

Posted 10 October 2019 - 02:21 PM

View PostHeather11, on 10 October 2019 - 01:19 PM, said:



OP, you said they brought in contractors.  Maybe they need to employ temporary staff for the periods they are busy, ie don't work during holidays.  I work in a school and I don't work or get paid during school holidays.

We've tried that. It ends up being a lengthy, expensive task. Trying to find the right person with the right skillset who is available for 3 months. They need a few weeks to be brought up to speed, so rarely can they hit the ground running and the cost is high, I think it was roughly around $50k for a 3 month contractor.

We have tried outsourcing work, again very expensive and the quality of work was poor.

#24 Treasure Island

Posted 10 October 2019 - 02:42 PM

What about senior/post-grad students studying in the field? They could be put on as casuals during term, if they are not local they will be wanting the holidays to go home anyway.

#25 YodaTheWrinkledOne

Posted 10 October 2019 - 02:44 PM

View PostDadto2, on 10 October 2019 - 02:17 PM, said:

Gotcha.

I guess the only thing that is not quite kosher, is how things have developed in my team. We have a manager, he is technical, although it's a non-technical role, 2 senior technical leads and 6 others under them. This team structure has been around for years and is a bit outdated, we don't really need the senior guys and don't really need a manager. The senior roles were there, originally, to help with the extra workload and primarily as a point of escalation if we were unable to resolves issues.

However because we are the ones at the coal face, our technical skills are fairly high (higher than the senior leads) and they are rarely able to help. However what has happened in the last few months is that they have been taking some of our work and they have been a bit duplicitous in the way they went about it.

I look after a financial application and have done for 8 years, I only found out that of the senior guys had been upgrading it when he cocked up and sheepishly asked for help. I didn't raise it with my manager as we all get on. But then I digged deeper and could see lots of work was being withheld. My manager has also started "helping out" with technical work and himself and the 2 seniors are away on a training course this week......

So I can understand an outsider looking in might not fully understand the team dynamics, workload, how work is supposed to be distributed etc
join the union and start briefing them on what's going on.




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