There is never a lot of public sympathy for mega-high earners. Yet when the axe falls on a big earner’s career who comes into bat on their behalf?
Let’s leave aside the culture of envy, because losing employment from a lofty position often means the gilded lifestyle, the private children’s education and the family’s future are all thrown into the balance.
As consolidation continues across the UK’s financial and investment sector, it can be a period of extreme stress, especially when your bench-marked, individual performance has fallen behind the top quartile. An under-performer is likely to get the call, told to visit the head of HR, shown the ‘package’ with the instruction: “Take it, or leave it.’’
Losing a job that pays around £200,000 a year or more which includes salary and bonuses, can be desperately tough. Really? Yes, really. Let’s be clear here: there aren’t a lot of jobs out there on similar terms and conditions and you may take a year or even more to get another top job. It might be that you never again reach the giddy-heights of this salary bracket. Then there is the loss of status and self-esteem, that can lead to depression and even despair.
So don’t you want to make sure you get a great exit agreement? One that considers the options on your future earning capacity, your age, your tax positon and your pension pot?
As an employment lawyer helping such an individual, you should start with the contractual agreement. Six months’ severance tends to be standard. That might mean a pay-off of £100,000. Again, to those on average salaries, this sounds an incredible amount. Yet if you have worked in a specific industry and taken out a mortgage and loan commitments, this sum is not going to last very long.
Someone helping to negotiate on your behalf can increase the pay-out, and perhaps seek the right level of compensation if you have been dealt with unfairly, Of course, if you managed to walk into a another job with a comparable salary, then you have good fortune. But, in my experience, this is the exception rather than the rule.
Increasingly, we see once-high earners living off their settlement and it quickly runs dry. From a pension point of view, it can be simple for you can transfer to another scheme, but there can be issues that require actuarial expertise.
You really should consult a lawyer – and this should be a good experience. Firstly, the lawyer should understand the emotional trauma of what you are going through. You might have given your heart and soul for the money you have earned. In the meantime, you have been missing out on all sorts of normal social and family events to get to where you are. Now you are no longer required. There’s a great deal of uncertainty. No matter who you are – or how good you think you are – you are likely to feel let down.
A lawyer should be able temper your disappointment and prevent you from lashing out in anger. Often today people fell aggrieved and want to say something on social media or speak out of turn to a newspaper or trade publication to air a gripe. Your lawyer can be the sounding post for your grievance. He or she should listen, so you can offload your anger, frustration and annoyance. It then goes no further. Far better this, than some mess if you start throwing accusations and mud under duress.
Of course, it there is a genuine cause of action, your lawyer will be able to advise on the best course to take. A good lawyer should become your confidante and your ally in this unusually stressful time. They are on your side. That means a lot as you rebuild your future. Big earners deserve the same help as the rest of us.