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My Assistant Was Made Redundant: A Case Study

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 12 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Assistant Redundancy Boss Marketing

It’s all too easy to think that people who manage to stay employed when all around them are being made redundant are the lucky ones. Of course, that is mainly true, but there are often knock-on effects that can really impact on those left behind.

This is what happened to Ali Camberley, a 32-year-old marketing manager from west London. As a result of the global economic downturn, the advertising agency where she works was going through a period of refinancing, resulting in a major internal restructuring programme. Although Ali was not made redundant, her assistant was.

Ali explained, “There was a period of time when Redundancy was hanging over all our heads and we knew that the board was deciding who they would keep and who they would let go. The agency had won a minor contract, but we’d also lost a few contracts that we’d had for a number of campaigns, so it was clear that business was slow.”

Crisis Meeting for All Employees

All of the employees were called together for a ‘crisis meeting’, with the CEO explaining that redundancies needed to be made. Ali continues, “We were offered Voluntary Redundancy to help the company, rather than having to make people redundant, but there were not enough people taking that option and they still needed to let a couple of people go. One of these people was my assistant, Becca, who’d worked with me for a couple of years. She would deal with a lot of my administrative tasks, including creating presentations and doing research.”

Following Becca’s redundancy, it was clear that the company were not planning to replace her, to save costs. This had a great impact on Ali’s day to day workload. She explains, “Although I was always careful not to get too precious, I did feel as though I had reached a certain stage in my career where the value I offered the company meant I needed an assistant. Once Becca left, I was having to do all sorts of tasks like printing and binding copies of presentations, which is fine, but I was spending less time on potentially fee-earning tasks, which I felt had a negative impact on both me and the company.”

Talking to the Boss

Ali requested a meeting with her boss, where they discussed the impact of Becca’s redundancy, but she was told that there was no budget for a replacement. Her boss also said that the fact that there were fewer contracts meant that Ali had time to do these administrative tasks herself.

Ali concluded, “I felt so demoralised. If there wasn’t a Recession, I would have been very happy to leave my job, but I felt trapped because I knew that there wasn’t a whole load of alternative jobs out there. I realised that I basically had to put up and shut up, which I’m still doing, although I am making sure that I follow up every possible lead and I use all my contacts on social networking sites to ensure that I’m at the top of the list when any new jobs do come up.”

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