Voluntary Redundancy

Written By: anonymous - Oct• 15•12

It begins with a phone call from Simpering Veronica……

“Helen, how are you?”

“I’m fine, thanks.” All the better if I could get you off the phone. “What can I do for you?”

“Well,” she pauses. “It’s more about what I can do for you, actually. You may have heard rumours of administrative changes?”

“I have.”

“Well, the rumours are partially true, there are going to be some, small, changes around here. Some support functions are being re-defined; some secretaries are being promoted…..”

I am only half listening as she witters on about off-shoring and streamlining I’m typing an e-mail to Miranda about legal costs.  It is only when the mentions the words: voluntary and redundancy that my ears prick up.

“Sorry, did you say the firm was asking for volunteers for redundancy?”

“Yes,” she confirms.

“Really? Well, I’ll certainly think about it.” Hallelujah!

“I’m afraid it only applies to secretaries.”

“Oh bugger!”

She breathes in sharply; no doubt shocked by my use of the Anglo Saxon.

“Sorry,” I mutter. “It was wishful thinking.”

“I understand,” she soothes. “It’s not always easy doing our day jobs.”

She can say that again. “But I do have some good news for you. Even if you can’t take redundancy, there is a high chance that your secretary can and will. She has applied to be considered.”

I reel back in my chair. Melinda is leaving! Of her own free will! Without any fight or unpleasantness! This is up there with degree results in terms of being a shockingly good moment in my life!

“Are you ok?” Veronica is still on the phone.

“Yes!” I shriek. I want to reach down the line and hug every pastel-covered inch of her. “When will it be confirmed?”

“Soon,” she says. ”We have to speak to the fee earners concerned, of course; then the formal selection process takes place, but there are only five candidates for three slots so, and so, well, the odds are in her favour, If Tarquin agrees I think it would be difficult to stop it.”

Don’t stop it! It has my full support! “Can I have Gemma?”

“Gemma? Oh, yes, well, we shall have to think about that, but that is one of the options we’ve been looking at.”

“Marvellous. If that can be arranged, I agree. Wholeheartedly! What happens next?”

“We follow the process and then, once three are selected, we shall discuss the package with them and then agree the terms. Once all that’s finished they can leave. It could be over pretty quickly.”

“How quickly?”

“Two or three weeks, I should think. If it all goes well. We still have to get Tarquin to agree it, of course.”

“He’ll agree it.”

“Well, then, if you’re right, I would imagine that the change will probably be affected by the end of the month. I will keep you posted. In the meantime, please don’t mention this call to Melinda.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I won’t!”

As soon as she’s off the line, I take out a big red marker pen and circle the last Friday of the month; Melinda’s leaving day! Christmas has come early this year!.


I don’t mention the phone call to Melinda, of course, but I can’t resist sharing the good news with the others. Liz and Alex instantly share my joy but Jane is upset that Danielle has not put herself forward for selection.

“Why hasn’t she volunteered?” she grumbles. “It’s not as if she likes working with me.”

Although, frankly, who would?

“Perhaps she thinks she’ll replace you in the reshuffle?” I offer.

“Yes? Well, maybe I’ll beat her to it,” she huffs.

But who else would take Jane on?

“What is Melinda going to do with her windfall?” Liz asks.

“I have no idea.” I have been so busy being happy for her departure I haven’t stopped to think about her motivation.

“Perhaps she’ll open a tanning salon?” Jane offers, “Or a nail bar?”

“Noooo!” I scoff. “That would require hard work and dedication. She’ll probably just end up falling into a similar job through a friend and repeating the same old lazy-arsed pattern.”

“Will you give her a reference?”

“Oh, yes.” I laugh. “Melinda Peach is a very special secretary. Her filing is extraordinary, her typing is astonishing and her attention to detail defies belief!

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