Jobs are made redundant, not people

It is pretty tough to lose your job, without carrying a label of being “redundant” – so shouldn’t PR practitioners involved in writing press releases announcing such bad news state that jobs are made redundant, not people?

The Telegraph wasn’t alone in reporting:

A record number of people are being made redundant in Britain as unemployment climbs towards two million, official figures show

The Mirror was even more brutal in stating “staff could be axed” – before clarifying “225,000 people were made redundant in the three months to November – the biggest jump since records began 13 years ago.”

Even one of the government’s website providing redundancy advice talks about what to do if you are made redundant.  But to be accurate, people are without jobs because their positions have been made redundant.

Direct.gov clearly states reasons for redundancy as:

  • new technology or a new system has made your job unnecessary
  • the job you were hired for no longer exists
  • the need to cut costs means staff numbers must be reduced
  • the business is closing down or moving

I believe the third point actually should state that the need to cut costs means the number of jobs must be reduced as the site goes on to state that although “bumping” (where someone else’s job disappears and they are moved into your job) may still be described as redundancy, “it may be difficult for your employer to justify as fair”.

I think this is an important distinction and not just semantics.  As a post at Fudzail advises “the first thing to remember in this situation is that the job is redundant and not the person” and someone should not feel ashamed if this happens.

So, could everyone in PR please ensure any bad news press releases clearly state their company has made positions redundant – and not insult the people involved.

Published by

Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

6 thoughts on “Jobs are made redundant, not people”

  1. Although I very much appreciate your intention, Heather, isn’t it really the other way around? These are real people losing their jobs – and, as you say, through no fault of their own – but if PR or journalists accept the legalistic framing that it is the positions that are going doesn’t it hide the human reality of the situation?

    To my ears, posts being made redundant isn’t that far away from reporting that bombing raids lead to ‘collateral damage’…

  2. I know what you mean Philip, and I don’t want to depersonalise or use a euphemism for the genuine human impact of job losses. But rather than label people as redundant, could we not talk about people losing their jobs.

    I do agree, the media should also clearly state that people are killed by bombs, not the horrid “collateral damage” or equally terrible “friendly fire” obfuscation.

  3. How can you be labeled redundant if your job isn’t leaving the site? They are asking me to train people who have no experience in what I do…. It’s very frustrating…

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