How to apply for voluntary redundancy

When companies wish to shed part of their workforce, they sometimes offer voluntary redundancy packages. Employees volunteer to become redundant in exchange for an attractive settlement, which might be a year's pay and extra salary in lieu of notice. A possible – but by no means certain – downside of taking up voluntary redundancy is the perception in some quarters that a stigma attaches to it: namely, that it denotes a lack of commitment or seriousness on the employee's part. Deciding whether or not to put yourself forward for voluntary redundancy is an entirely personal choice. If you do, proceed discreetly and with caution.

Look at the settlement on offer first of all. Before making any decision, make sure that taking the redundancy package makes sense for you. Perhaps it will help to accomplish some important life goal – for instance, to pay off your mortgage or invest in your children's education. Weigh this against any worry you might have that taking redundancy now could make you less employable in the future.

Contact the head of human resources via email or letter, expressing an interest in taking voluntary redundancy. Don't go through your line manager and don't forward your message to anyone else. The fewer people know about it, the more control you have over the way in which you are perceived by your colleagues and your profession. In your email, be diplomatic and emphasise reasons outside work – a long commute, a desire for a change of lifestyle – for taking up the option, rather than dwelling on any dissatisfaction with the job itself.

Wait for human resources to get back to you, then respond to any questions they might have. Once again, focus on personal rather than professional reasons for your decision in any ensuing discussions, and sign any necessary forms.

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About the Author

Based in the United Kingdom, Graham Rix has been writing on the arts, antiquing and other enthusiasms since 1987. He has been published in “The Observer” and “Cosmopolitan.” Rix holds a Master of Arts degree in English from Magdalen College, Oxford.

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