As South Africans gear down to embrace the further easing of lockdown restrictions to level 3, the number of people infected with the virus is still growing. The current concern for the country is the Western Cape which has the largest of the reported cases as well as deaths by Covid-19. With the concern daily about the increase in numbers staying stress free during the lockdown is almost impossible.
The added concern for South Africans is their work status. As much as many companies have begun to open their doors again as the lockdown levels ease, there are many who are either closing their doors permanently or letting go of employees.
The retrenchment announcement is something one can never be prepared for. It is also something you don’t want to hear. But unfortunately, it is something beyond our control.
Let’s look at how staff and employers should address news of retrenchment.
• Employers should set any rumours at bay. If there is a possibility of retrenchment in the organisation, communication should be sent so that employees can be prepared for it.
• Before exploring retrenchment ensure as an employer you have explored if the employee can perhaps adjust their working hours, could they be offered early retirement and perhaps even eliminate overtime.
• If all possibilities have been explored and the only option is retrenchment then written communication including the reason for retrenchment as well as the number of employees being affected and a proposed severance pay.
• As an employee once news breaks of a retrenchment, you need to find out what you entitled to. In South Africa an employee will receive one week’s pay for every year worked. In the case of retrenchment some contracts might already come with a retrenchment policy in place. Ensure that you access this information to assess exactly what you will be walking away with.
• Sign up with UIF. The sooner you do this the better as we know that right now this department is inundated with requests as many are claiming UIF following the no work no pay policy many companies have taken on.
• You should also inform your credit providers. If you have any debt it would be crucial to contact them and let them know that you will be retrenched. This will help ease the pressure as you try to get back on your feet.
• The most important point of dealing with retrenchment is not to burn bridges. Once you have received the news don’t lose your cool. Keep calm and look at other ways in which you can find alternative work. References are important you wouldn’t want a negative one from the last place you worked at.
• Take care of your mental wellbeing. The feeling of not knowing what will happen next can be extremely overwhelming. Take the time to get the necessary help. Surround yourself with people who will inspire and support you and not those that will encourage you to get over it.
Being retrenched is a big change in life it will require time to cope with. While you are doing this try and make alternative plans or goals that you wish to achieve in order to be at the top of your game again.
Behind the scenes: Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute. ICHAF offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below. Tel: 011 262 2461 | Email: [email protected] | Website: ichaftraining.co.za | devan-moonsamy.com