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How to deal with retrenchments

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We are here to help you. Follow our practical steps on what you should do if you're retrenched and some of our tools that can help you in the next couple of months

One of the first emotions you may feel is shock. You may question why this has happened to you.

Your shock may develop into anger. You may be angry at your company and management for the decision they took to retrench you, and you may be mad at your supervisors or colleagues for retaining their positions. You may even be angry at yourself, believing that if you only worked harder or longer hours, you may have been retained. It is essential to understand that retrenchment is not your fault. As unfortunate as it is, you shouldn’t blame anyone either. You should also be careful not to burn bridges with your colleagues and supervisors because this could affect your future employment prospects.


It is normal to feel a mixture of disappointment, sadness, regret and even fear. You may experience negative mood changes, especially if you’re unemployed for a long time. You need to seek professional help if this continues, and remember not to blame yourself for getting retrenched.


During this phase, you may begin accepting that the retrenchment happened. You need to focus on moving on and rebuilding your life. We suggest that you contact our Financial Planners or Debt Care Centre.

What is the legal retrenchments process that employers must follow

The retrenchment process is governed by the Labour Relations and Basic Conditions of Employment Act. Your employer has a responsibility to give you the following information:

  • A UIF form
  •  Section 189 Notice which informs you of the retrenchment
  • A certificate confirming your duration of service and;
  • An agreement showing the calculation of your severance.

Speak to your line manager and/or other senior management within your organisation and request a  reference (character and performance).

You can also ask your human resources department who you can speak to regarding your performance and character references.

Update your resume

A critical step in finding employment is understanding who you are as an individual, your skills, and .career aspirations. For example, if you’re the Director of a litigation division in a hotel chain, it may not be easy for you to find a similar position. You may have to combine your core skills (example, litigation, legal knowledge, public speaking) and competencies (example, problem-solving, leadership and research) to avoid this.

Next, look at what you’re proficient in (for example, you’re an advanced Microsoft PowerPoint or Excel user).

Jot down your skills, competencies and what you’re proficient in as what you have to offer the job market.

Now you can take the above, add details of your previous duties, responsibilities and achievements, and put this all together in a format that suits you.

Remember to include your references from your managers and update this information on your LinkedIn profile. There are other job-seeking and networking websites you can join to upload your CV and apply for jobs.

Reminder: Don’t put your identity number on your CV because you don’t want to fall prey to fraudsters or scammers.

Retrenchment cover
While you review your insurance policies, be sure to contact each of your credit providers and request confirmation if you have retrenchment cover, or salary/ income protection on your accounts. If you have this cover in place, find out what information and documentation are required to lodge a claim. You also need to find out how quickly the funds and/or premiums will be paid.”
Financial planning

You may be entitled to a severance or retrenchment package and you may be entitled to access your pension fund.

Lump-sum payments are usually taxed (depending on your age and tax liability), and you need to keep this in mind. You need to be honest with yourself about the prospects of getting another job, depending on your age and the industry you were working in. You should use your lump sum to keep you afloat and meet your monthly debt obligations. If you can, close the accounts you can afford to pay off. Feel free to contact our Financial Planners for advice.


Go through the last three to six months’ bank statements on your transactional account and review your spending patterns.

If you can, create a spreadsheet with categories such as fuel/transport costs, groceries, telephone/cell phone and connectivity costs, utilities, debt repayments etc.

If you can’t create a spreadsheet, use a highlighter to identify your different categories.

Add up each category. Once you’ve done this, start looking at spending you can cut.

Ensure that you don’t cut your insurance policies when you evaluate your expenses. Rather look for cheaper insurance quotes and adjust your cover to your affordability. Get a quote by visiting our Car and Home Insurance page.

Contact the experts

One of the most significant impacts of getting retrenched is the ability to repay your debts. We suggest that you contact the Standard Bank Debt Care Centre immediately when you receive your retrenchment letter. We’ll guide you through our various offerings.

You can call our Debt Care Centre on 0860 111 400, speak to one of our experienced consultants, or simply visit our Distressed Customer Solutions to learn more

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