The UK is suffering one of the worst recessions of all times, and the new Conservative/Liberal government has been forced to undertake a system of budget cuts and tax rises to fight off the national deficit. Despite being largely the result of the government’s bail-out of the private banks, the pressure is going to be felt in the public sector, with predictions of over 200,000 jobs to be lost over the next 5 years. Many of these will be through voluntary redundancies, retirements and not filling vacant posts, but there will be some who will have to be made redundant.
UK employment law makes it reasonably difficult for public sector organizations to fire their employees, with long processes of competency improvement, sickness monitoring and flexible working schedules all in place to help employees continue to work. However, in situations where redundancies need to be made, there are systems in place to help the employee make a smooth transition out of the job.
The first of these is that of redeployment. Public sector jobs fall across many areas, from education to social housing, but all are administered by a city or county council. Redeployment law requires the employer to research and offer the employee similarly paid positions in a relevant area within the council. By law, they are required to look for work in a similar field with similar levels of responsibility, but as the public sector as a whole shrinks this may become harder to do.
The second system, aimed at helping those unable or unwilling to accept jobs found through redeployment is skills training. This is a small grant made available to employees facing redundancies to help them enroll in further training and education. It is not normally the case that this money covers the entire tuition cost, but it is intended as a stimulus to help the employee use their time out of work productively.
The final system accessible by the employee is take time off during their notice period to hunt for new jobs and attend interviews. The notice period for a public sector job varies, but is usually a minimum of one month, increasing in line with length of service and responsibility. There is no strict definition about how much time during this notice period can be taken to job hunt, but there is a certain moral kindness extended to employees, especially to those that the organization is being forced to release against their own will.