Redundancy can be an unsettling and stressful process, but it’s no reflection of your legal ability. Remember that it’s the role that’s being made redundant, not you.
This page has information and resources to guide you through the process, including support for your mental health and help with moving on.
Finding out your rights
Your employer has certain legal responsibilities around redundancy. Read the government’s information on your rights.
If you’re a trainee solicitor and you’re made redundant before you qualify, read what to do if your period of training is terminated.
Working out your notice period
You should agree with your employer whether you’ll be working out your notice period. If you are, remember that you're allowed reasonable time off to look for another job. There’s no legal definition of 'reasonable' so this will depend on your circumstances.
Looking after your personal finances
Make sure you understand all your financial outgoings and how you’re going to cover them until you find another job. You should let your creditors know if you’re not able to make your usual payments. If possible, arrange face-to-face meetings to discuss your situation.
You may be eligible for benefits such as:
- Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) while you’re looking for work
- Universal credit for help with living costs – it can be claimed at the same time, or instead of, the ‘new style’ JSA
There’s no basic right to a redundancy package beyond statutory redundancy pay.
You’re eligible for statutory redundancy pay if you have at least two years' continuous service with your employer.
You do not have to pay tax on statutory redundancy pay. However, any other redundancy payments you receive from your employer may be taxable. The government has more detailed information on redundancy pay.
When discussing the terms of your redundancy with your employer, you may want to consider negotiating a redundancy package.
This discussion may form part of the redundancy consultation procedure but if not, you can request it. However, consider your employer’s position and the reasons for the redundancy first. Options will be limited if, for example, your employer is insolvent.
If a package in addition to statutory redundancy pay is available, the amount you might get will depend on:
- how long you’ve been continuously working for your employer
- the number of years’ service relative to your age band
Practising certificate and the Roll of Solicitors
If you hold a practising certificate when you’re made redundant, it will be up for renewal on 31 October. You then have a choice of renewing the certificate or allowing it to lapse.
The SRA has information on renewing an individual practising certificate.
If your practising certificate is issued part way through the year, the fee will be pro-rated. Details of this are in the SRA fee policy 2019. You should allow up to 30 days for your practising certificate to be issued.
Keeping your name on the Roll
You can keep your name on the Roll of Solicitors even if you do not keep up your practising certificate. If your name is removed from the Roll, however, you must refer to yourself as a former solicitor, not a solicitor, until it’s reinstated.
The SRA has a guide on how to be restored to the Roll. It costs £20 to reinstate your name and takes approximately 21 to 28 days. You cannot apply for a practising certificate until this process is complete.
Resources for coping emotionally
You’re likely to experience a range of emotions, and it can help to talk things through.
Your employer may provide counselling and/or outplacement support.
You can also get assistance from LawCare which offers a free, confidential advisory and support service for lawyers with work-related difficulties.
Our COVID-19: Wellbeing and mental health has a list of resources for both practitioners and managers.
Moving on and looking for your next role
You should ask for references from your last employer which:
- explain why you were made redundant
- confirm that the decision was not a reflection of your work but due to changes in the business (for example, client demand or the economy).
Before you start job hunting, take some time to:
- look at your career so far and what you enjoyed/did not enjoy in your last job
- plan what you want to do next
- register with Gazette jobs for job alerts
- read our job seeking guidance
- think about some continuing development training
Keeping in touch with the profession
It’s important to keep in touch with the profession while you’re out of the workplace. It’ll keep you up to date with the latest developments in your area of work, and increase your chances of finding your next role.
Stay in touch by:
- contacting friends in practice and former colleagues
- developing contacts at your local Law Society
- attending local and special interest group activities
- registering for newsletters and updates in areas of law you’re interested in
- joining legal groups on LinkedIn
- updating your LinkedIn profile to show you’re open to new opportunities
- connecting with others on social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagam
Law Society resources
Government information on employee status for advice on employee rights
Acas has workplace advice, including information on dispute resolution
LawCare offers free, confidential support, information and training to the legal community to help with mental health and wellbeing problems. Its trained staff and volunteers have first-hand experience of working in law.
Call: 0800 279 6888
SBA The Solicitors’ Charity is an independent charity for solicitors and their families. It helps people who are in serious financial need due illness, accident, redundancy or other events.
Call: 020 8675 6440
Solicitors’ Assistance Scheme offers free confidential help and advice on personal and professional issues for all solicitors in England and Wales, as well as their families and employees.