By Bianca Smit
With Covid-19 and an economy that is tight, retrenchment will soon be a reality for many, or it has already become a reality. What should I do if I am facing this prospect?
In a detailed article published on www.corona.org.za Solidarity has already pointed out that retrenchments due to the Covid-19 pandemic would be fair. Retrenchments take place when employers have to terminate the services of employees due to operational reasons. If this happens to be the case at your workplace, your company must follow the correct section 189 process under the Labour Relations Act. More information is also available on www.corona.org.za .
As it is, Covid-19 already has a major impact on our economy, as well as on the financial situation of many companies. In certain cases, companies will therefore consider retrenchment and will usually start with those employees whose duties can be reorganised or even taken over by other members of staff.
For many companies, their office practitioners fulfil a support and anchor role and the work they are doing is more than valuable. However, your employer might now think that your duties could be split up and spread among other employees. If that is the case, what do you do then?
First, see to it that you remain relevant and indispensable. Your employer must believe that he will not be able to survive without you. The impact you have must be so obvious and significant that your employer would not even look in your direction when retrenchment is in the offing.
One of the ways to achieve this is to become a master in your field. In this regard, continued learning is of vital importance, especially at a time like this. This is precisely why S-leer continues to offer comprehensive webinars and e-learning courses and has made its offer available free of charge during the lockdown. Why don’t you go to www.s-leer.co.za right now to make sure you remain relevant in your career?
If you have skills another colleague has not yet mastered, your employer may realise that he can use you in extra roles. For example, by doing an online course in finance you can acquire skills and knowledge to possibly help out with other office functions as well.
There are, of course, circumstances where this solution will not work because your employer will have to cut costs for the sake of survival, and you will probably have to follow a different strategy. One such strategy could be to mention to your employer that you understand he can no longer afford your services, but that you are willing to accept a salary cut. Otherwise, you could ask your employer to consider employing you for one day a week. On that day you will then still be able to perform the tasks associated with diary management and filing, you will be able to do your reports, make travel and accommodation arrangements, deal with data and take minutes of meetings. This will ensure you of a partial income and will reduce the pressure on the company.
Of course, we realise that it is not a sustainable plan to survive on a salary of one day a week, but you may consider offering your services to another institution once a week as well. That way, you can become a freelance administrative officer. Basically, you will be working for yourself by offering your services to various companies.
If there is one thing I have noticed with the Covid-19 pandemic it is that now is not the time to lie down. Now is the time to adjust and to think differently. The suggestions made here are guidelines you may wish to follow. It may work, perhaps not, but you have nothing to lose if possibility is already knocking on your door.
The pandemic is not going to disappear overnight. You may have to do work that previously did not form part of your job description. The normal that we were used to is going to change into a new normal and it is therefore important for you to make yourself indispensable during this time.